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High school grads receive congressional scholarships

By Joel Hall

Alfredia Scott, wife of U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) and CO-chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Spouses, awarded $15,500 in scholarships this week to students in the 13th Congressional District. Out of the five students to receive scholarships, three hail from schools within the Southern Crescent.

On Monday, Mrs. Scott awarded Mundy's Mill High School graduate Keith Shipp, 18, with a $1,000 CBC Spouses Walmart Strive for Excellence Scholarship and Jonesboro High School graduate Caroline Callaway, 18, received a $4,200 scholarship from the CBC Spouses Education Scholarship Fund. Shipp will apply the money toward room and board at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in the fall, and Callaway will apply her winnings toward study at the Berklee College of Music, the students said.

Amber Durden, 17, a graduate of Stockbridge High School, received a $2,000 CBC Spouses Walmart Strive for Excellence Scholarship. She will apply the money to her studies at Brenau University in Gainsville, where she will major in biology, she said.

Veronica Butler, a graduate of Chapel Hill High School in Douglasville, and Brandi Willis, a graduate of Campbell High School in Smyrna, also received scholarship awards of $2,500 and $5,800, respectively.

According to Mrs. Scott, the money for CBC scholarships is raised by the spouses of CBC members around the country through various fundraisers held throughout the year. She said the five local scholarship recipients competed with 1,500 other applicants within the 13th Congressional District.

"In 1988, when the federal funds were cut [for education and scholarship programs], the CBC Spouses said that we had to get together and do something about it," Mrs. Scott said. "They can pretty much use the money the way they want to. Since the checks are made out to the schools, the kids turn the checks into the school and then schools put those toward their funds.

"A number of schools have raised their tuition fees," she added. "Some of them are going to school out of state, so it will help them tremendously."

Mrs. Scott said the scholarship amounts were given based on need and academic achievement. All five of the local scholarship recipients this year had grade-point averages of 3.7 or higher and participated in several honor societies and extracurricular activities, she said.

Shipp, who applied for the scholarship after being referred by a counselor, graduated from Mundy's Mill High School this past spring. He said he will use his $1,000 scholarship to pay for room and board at Florida A&M -- something not covered by his other scholarships.

"I was very happy because I was already thinking about how much money I had for school this summer," he said. "It [the scholarship] will be very helpful because [the cost of room and board for] one semester is $3,700, so $1,000 off of that is a great help."

Callaway, who graduated from Jonesboro High School, is also a double bass player who is a member of the Southern Crescent Symphony Orchestra, the Divine Fillari Quartet, and the Jonesboro United Methodist Church Orchestra. She said her $4,200 scholarship will help her pay for the upkeep of her bass, while she pursues a performance and music therapy double major at Berklee.

"My mother makes a good amount of money, but nobody can just take out $40,000 for school," Callaway said. "It [the scholarship] will make it a lot easier for my family. It will not only help me academically, but musically, because I will be able to spend that money on something else," she said. "It might help me buy better strings or a better carrying case."

Durden, who will be attending college at the same time as her twin brother, graduated Stockbridge High School in the spring. She said her $2,000 scholarship will help in her quest to become a pharmacist.

"I will not have to pay for anything else now [for the first semester]," said Durden. "I'm just happy that they [CBC Spouses] are taking time to help their community out."

Mrs. Scott said she hopes the scholarships will motivate the students and encourage them to give back to their own communities.

"In difficult times, that someone is awarding them for what they do ... what I hope that it provides, is the energy that these students need," Scott said. "It will provide them with the understanding that they have to give back to their community, and that there is a reward for it."