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GDS Announces Newly Endowed Award: The Mekia S. Valentine '06 Award

Standing at 6'4, Mekia Valentine '06 towered over the majority of her classmates. Though this was the first impression one might have, it was always her big smile and infectiously positive attitude that stayed with those who knew her best. She was respected by her classmates, older and younger students, and the faculty of Greensboro Day School.

UCSB Women's Basketball Head Coach Lindsay Gottleib stated, “Whatever points or rebounds she accumulates, that will never tell the story of Mekia Valentine, her competitiveness, and what she brings to the table,” she said. “Above all else, she is an absolutely outstanding young woman.”

Her athletic prowess afforded her many opportunities and accomplishments. She was the nation's #23 recruit and 3rd best power-forward coming out of high school. She accepted a scholarship to play basketball at Wake Forest University where she made the ACC All-Freshman Team in 2007 while averaging 5.9 points and 4.7 rebounds with 50 blocked shots, the second-most in Wake Forest history. She transferred to the University of California at Santa Barbara, where as a junior in 2009-10, she averaged 12.3 points and 9.7 rebounds. Her 4.0 blocks per game set a school record and ranked third in the nation. She received second-team All-Big West Conference honors and was also voted to the Big West All-Tournament team. She also made second-team all-league as a senior while averaging a double-double of 11.1 points and 11.2 rebounds with 3.7 blocks. Her 347 rebounds that season set a school record at the time. Mekia still holds UCSB records for career rebound average (10.5 per game), blocks in a game (11), blocks in a season (120), and field-goal percentage in both a season (.620) and a career (.595). The New York Liberty selected her in the third round of the 2011 WNBA Draft. She opted to go overseas, however, and spent the next four years playing professional basketball in Israel, Poland, Romania and Germany.

Mekia passed away on March 26, 2020, sending shockwaves through the GDS community. Classmates and former teachers were saddened by the news and were left to think back on so many positive memories. Her big heart and big smile will never be forgotten. Her friends only hope that she knew she was an even better person than she was a basketball player.

Mandy Downes Laster '06, classmate and teammate of Mekia stated, "Mekia and I were basketball teammates our junior year. I was the new kid and she was so kind and welcoming to me. The only one crazy enough to meet me in the gym at 6 a.m.! Her smile, outgoing personality, and contagious laugh could brighten anyone’s day. She was truly a genuine, gentle soul (except on the court!). A friend to all and will never be forgotten."  

Leslie Valentine '92, wanted to do something to memorialize her niece, Mekia. Through her nonprofit, the L&M Valentine Foundation, Inc., Leslie has established a student award endowment fund in memory of Mekia and the impact of Mekia’s educational and athletic experience at Greensboro Day School. 

Leslie stated, "Mekia attending Greensboro Day School in the 4th grade was the best decision our family made regarding her education. Mekia's time at GDS was great. She was exposed to so many opportunities that may not have happened had she not attended GDS. While at GDS Mekia was a girl scout, participated in several school plays in elementary school, a cheerleader, a track runner and a phenomenal basketball player. She met and became a part of so many families. She excelled in academics as an avid reader and writer. Because of what Greensboro Day School provided to Mekia, I feel it is only appropriate to honor her legacy by helping to ensure that a minority student and their family experience the opportunities and exposure our family saw at Greensboro Day School."

The Mekia S. Valentine '06 Award will recognize a female student of color in the Upper School who makes outstanding efforts in several of the following areas: academics, extra-curricular activities, leadership, and community involvement. The award will be presented in the spring at the End of Year Athletic Awards Ceremony. 

If you would like to contribute to this endowment fund, please visit www.greensboroday.org/giving and enter 'Mekia Valentine Award' into the comment field on the giving page. 

Greensboro Day School’s endowment adds to the stability and financial maturity of the school. Donors to permanent endowment funds show their belief that an investment in the school will continue to make a difference beyond their own lifetime. Additions to the endowment come from direct gifts and planned gifts in the form of cash, securities, property or other tangible items.

If you would like more information about endowments, please contact Director of Advancement, Ian Patrick at 336-288-8590 ext. 235 or by email at ianpatrick@greensboroday.org.
Greensboro Day School develops the intellectual, ethical, and interpersonal foundations students need to become constructive contributors to the world.