The Charlottesville Scholarship Program celebrated eight new award recipients at CitySpace on Monday.
The winners are 2017 graduates of Charlottesville High School from low or middle-income households. Many will be the first in their families to attend college.
“It’s unbelievable, some of the challenges these students have overcome to get to where they are,” said Joseph Sabol, chairman of the Charlottesville Scholarship Program board. “We are here to figure out how we, as a community, can help those who need a leg up.”
Sabol said this year’s pool of 32 applicants for the scholarship was the largest ever. “There is a very definite need in the community for what we do,” he said.
The Charlottesville Scholarship Program was started with an initial grant of $250,000 from the city of Charlottesville in 2001, and is supported by donations from local businesses and individuals. Since its inception, the program has awarded scholarships to 126 students with a total value of $386,700.
This year’s winners can receive as much as $9,000 over four years, starting with an initial award of $1,500. “It’s an ongoing award — not just a ‘one and done,’” Sabol said.
At Monday’s ceremony, the students were introduced to their “navigators” — Charlottesville Scholarship Program volunteers who will offer them advice and encouragement throughout their college years.
The 2017 scholarship winners are: Jordan Burnley, Alisse Collick, Batula Hassan, Jasmine Hayes, Eanna Langston, Kibiriti Majuto, Jacob Morris and Daeja Wade.
Langston said her scholarship, along with financial aid, would cover most of her tuition at Old Dominion University. “I’m excited to build my own independence in college,” she said.
Langston’s father, James Dennis, said his daughter’s education would inspire her younger siblings to pursue college degrees.
“By watching Eanna go through college, they will see that going to college is a part of everyday life,” Dennis said.
Wade said she has worked about 20 hours per week to support her family while in high school. “It’s taken a lot of time management, but I’m glad I’ve done it,” she said.
Wade said she was “extremely happy and excited” to have won the scholarship before heading to Virginia Commonwealth University this fall.
Morris said he was grateful to be paired with a navigator.
“I’m pretty certain of where I want to go in college, but I may need a little help around the edges,” Morris said.
Morris attended CHS through the Ivy Creek School special-education program. He is studying computer science at Piedmont Virginia Community College.
Monday’s event also celebrated the renewal of the Charlottesville Scholarship Program’s Preston Coiner Scholarship.
The late Coiner served as vice president of the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society and was the historian for the city’s Board of Architectural Review. Applicants for the Preston Coiner Scholarship, who can be residents of the city or county, must write an essay on some aspect of local history. This year’s winner will be announced at a later date.
Janaya Mott, who won the scholarship last year, recently completed her freshman year at Lynchburg College. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science with a minor in history.
“I have learned so much about myself,” said Mott, who attended Monday’s event. “I’ve learned how to remain focused on my academics, and how to manage my social life.”
Mott encouraged this year’s scholarship recipients to form relationships with their professors and to get involved in their campus community.
City Councilor Kristin Szakos told the students that they would make Charlottesville proud.
“You are going to go out into the world and do amazing things,” Szakos said. “We are counting on you.”