Joint Scholarship Celebration Awards $81,000 to Twin Cities Students | local education
BLOOMINGTON — “You have to put your name on it to win it,” Brandon Caffey of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity told the University Fellows on Saturday.
He represented one of 16 organizations that awarded a total of $81,000 in educational assistance to more than two dozen high school graduates and college students at a joint scholarship celebration.
The event was coordinated by the Mentorship and Sponsorship Program, with assistance from the Bloomington-Normal NAACP, and hosted at Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Bloomington.
NAACP Chapter President Linda Foster remarked to the audience that at the heart of the NAACP’s mission is to eradicate racism and discrimination.
Once done, she said “we can live in peace.
“We can breathe out and we can be as human beings should be: in harmony.”
As they continue to wage this war on racism, Foster said they need to keep bringing in young people brave enough to apply for scholarships.
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Superintendents from the Twin Cities’ two public school districts were also in attendance Saturday.
McLean County Unit 5 Chief Kristen Weikle congratulated all Bloomington-Normal graduates and noted that she was especially biased toward Unit 5 graduates. Weikle said she looked forward to that they receive their scholarships.
Barry Reilly, Superintendent of Bloomington School District 87, said the scholarships are truly meaningful to the children in our community, and he is personally thrilled for them.
Reilly told recipients that there are many who have invested in their future and that they shouldn’t be afraid to take advantage of those relationships.
“Take the good things you see in people, learn from them, and don’t hesitate to reach out and learn from those people,” he said. “Keep doing that. You have great mentors around you.
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Rhonda Johnson of Normal told the Pantagraph that her family started the Dr. Dominique Lawson Scholarship Fund as a gift for her daughter, a psychologist in Maryland.
This was done, she said, because they wanted greater representation of people of color in her profession, noting that only 4% of the psychology field are African Americans. Johnson said they raised funds to help encourage students to get into this field.
Michael Coleman, a graduate of Normal Community High School, received the Lawson Scholarship.
Another recipient in attendance was Tahigee Floyd, a 2022 graduate of Normal Community West High School. He told the Pantagraph he felt shocked and blessed by the awards.
“I just thank God that I was able to win,” he said, adding that he hopes to help other young people down the road and pass on the blessings.
Floyd said he heard about the scholarships a few years ago and saw others win. And, he said it was crazy that he could win one too.
Floyd plans to study marketing at North Park University in Chicago.
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Jasmyn Jordan, a 2021 NCWHS graduate who double majored in criminology and political science in the pre-law stream at the University of Iowa, received the Mentorship and Scholarship Program fund.
Jordan spoke at the event about his first lessons from his freshman year. She quoted civil rights activist Audre Lorde: “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate these differences.
Drawing parallels between how our bodies need an array of food groups to be healthy and strong, she says, it’s imperative to surround ourselves with people who demonstrate a variety of mindsets, personalities and abilities.
Without it, Jordan said we would remain emotionally, spiritually and physically sad.
“Every human being is unique and serves a unique purpose, and if all of humanity were the same, our race could not survive,” she continued, noting that a homogenous humanity is incapable of solving the world’s problems. .
She said diversity and unity allow us to thrive, although groups of certain characteristics gravitate toward each other. Jordan said they need to learn to be receptive to the differences of others around them.
“Often humans choose to do the wrong thing because doing the right thing is much more difficult,” she said. “Some people resent differences in others that directly affect them and question their status and power.
“Therefore, it is difficult for humans to find value in each other’s diversity.”
Organizations awarded included:
• Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Omicron Delta Omega Chapter
• Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Nu Psi Lambda Chapter
• Bergner Scholarship Fund (Laurie and Ray)
• “B”radley ”E”ncourages – BE Kindness Awards
• Delta Sigma Theta sorority alumni chapter
• Dr. Dominique Lawson Scholarship Fund
• Dr. Cedrick Williams Scholarship Fund
• Kappa Alpha Psi Brotherhood, Elders Chapter
• Links, Central Illinois Chapter
• Mentorship and scholarship program
• NAACP Bloomington-Normal Branch
• Omega Psi Phi Brotherhood, Alumni Chapter
• 100 black men from central Illinois
• Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Kappa Mu Sigma Alumni Chapter
• Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Kappa Epsilon Sigma Chapter
• Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Beta Iota Zeta Chapter
Do you have plans ?
James Harden, executive director of engagement and social learning for Champaign School District Unit 4, was the keynote speaker at Saturday’s event.
The key message he conveyed to the audience, especially the graduates, was to continually ask themselves, “What are you doing? Where are you? Do you have plans ?
He then asked the public to put those plans on paper.
“If it’s not written, it’s not real.”
Then Harden said to affirm those plans with lines of “I am…”
“I’m blessed. I’m gifted. I’m God’s child. I’m highly favored. I’m awesome. I’m unstoppable,” Harden said.
This story will be updated with a full list of scholarship winners.
Contact Brendan Denison at (309) 820-3238. Follow Brendan Denison on Twitter: @BrendanDenison