Submitted By Dr. Angela Mercer
Special To the Guide
When the members of the Friends of Hampton Roads realized that the coronavirus would jeopardize their fundraiser this year, it seemed that their ability to offer annual scholarships to deserving high school students may be compromise. But, as, one member stated “there was no way that the organization would sit by and allow the recent pandemic to stop them from accomplishing their mission”. The choice was clear for the group. As a non-profit organization developed mainly to assist high school students in their quest to attend college, the group decided to proceed and felt that with a little ingenuity the annual scholarship award luncheon could be accomplished as well.
On July 12, 2020, The Friends of Hampton Roads awarded $19,500 to five deserving high school graduates planning to attend college. This 32nd Annual Scholarship Award ceremony was held via Zoom unlike the in- person award luncheon generally held at the Slover Library in Norfolk on a Sunday in early June. The award amounts ranged from $2,000 to $7,000.
Every year for 31 years the organization had developed a topic for an essay to be submitted by the applicants to the scholarship committee. Along with their GPA, financial statements and two letters of recommendation, the students would submit their essay to the scholarship committee. The committee would in turn review all the data received from the applicants and with the help of independent judges would determine the winners.
This year the question used for the essay topic was,” IF YOU HAD THE POWER, WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO RESOLVE THE ECONOMIC, POLITICAL AND SOCIAL ISSUES OF TODAY?” Of the eleven applicants five winners were chosen. Included were Elainey Bass from Western Branch High School, Jasmine Crawford from Indian River High School, Jalan Davis from Indian River High School, Kaeshawn Ward from Norfolk Christian Schools, and Tyreece White from Woodside High School.
2020 Scholarship Awardees
Elainey Bass: Western Branch HS
Jasmine Crawford, Indian River HS
Jalan Davis, Indian River HS
Kaeshawn Ward, Norfolk CS
Tyreece White, Woodside H
All the winners discussed the impact of the pandemic on all three aspects of life in response to the posed question. Tyreece White stated that although “the president has put in numerous precautions to prevent the spread of the corona virus, the infection rate and the death toll in the United States continues to rise. A proposed measure that should be executed is more government assistance to contain the virus”.
Kaeshawn Ward cited that “due to the pandemic, the United States has seen a major drop in the economy, and it has left millions of workers unemployed”. He also stated that if he had the power, “I would give out more money. The stimulus checks should be given to young adults who are currently in college or anyone who is working despite their age.”
Like other years, there was a keynote speaker. Dr. Janis Sanchez, a Clinical Psychologist and retired chairman of the Department of Psychology at Old Dominion University, presented those in attendance with words of encouragement. She challenged the students to follow their dreams.
Throughout her talk, she declared that “Black Lives Matter” as she encouraged them not to be deterred by the happenings of today.
Despite the inability of the organization to have their annual fundraiser, the Friends of Hampton Roads was able to accomplish their mission. Despite the necessary restrictions of the pandemic, the Friends of Hampton Roads found a way to honor the remarkable high school graduates and to award deserving students with scholarships.