Photo by Heather Middleton
By Curt Yeomans
Jonesboro High School graduate, Chelsea Walker, said watching her grandmother go through physical therapy is what led to her to decide to study exercise and sports science at the University of Georgia.
"My grandmother had a lot of medical problems; she had several strokes," Walker said. "So, she had to do a lot of physical therapy afterwards, and that inspired me to want to take that route."
Meanwhile, Woodland High School graduate, Kwardel Lewis, who also is about to begin studies at UGA, said a movie about a soldier coping with post-traumatic stress disorder, after returning home from war, is what led to her wanting to study psychology.
"It just really touched me, and I know I want to help soldiers," Lewis said. "I know psychology will be my first step in helping me become a psychiatrist."
Walker, Lewis, and Lovejoy High School graduate, Davis Nguyen (who is preparing to begin his studies at Yale University), were among 10 students from the 13th U.S. Congressional District who were recognized, Monday, at U.S. Rep. David Scott's (D-Ga.) Smyrna District Office. The pupils were recognized because they are recipients of scholarships offered by the Congressional Black Caucus Spouses Scholarship Program.
Nguyen and Lewis each received $1,150 Walmart Strive for Excellence Scholarships, while Walker received a $1,640 CBC (Congressional Black Caucus) Spouses Education Scholarship. Both the Walmart and the CBC scholarships are coordinated, and distributed by the Congressional Black Caucus Spouses Scholarship Program, according to officials from the congressman's office.
Those officials, and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc., also said the 13th Congressional District had more scholarship applications (60 applicants) than any other district that is a member of the caucus.
"We received many applications, and eventually, we were able to narrow it down to 10 very deserving recipients from Cobb, Douglas, Clayton, Fulton and Henry counties," said Sheila Davis, the scholarship coordinator for Rep. Scott's office.
Alfredia Scott, Rep. Scott's wife, and the co-chairperson of caucus' spouses committee, said scholarship recipients are chosen based on their academics, volunteer activities and financial need. She added that the scholarships are only available to high school seniors who live in a congressional district represented by a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The congressman's wife told the recipients that she will be "looking for good things" from them in the future. While the scholarship awards are not big, she pointed out to the recipients that they are enough to pay for some of the smaller costs of attending college, such as textbooks or activity fees.
"The scholarships that we are handing out today will, hopefully, be able to help you out," Alfredia Scott said. "Maybe you will be able to buy that book that you [otherwise] can't afford. You'll probably get a chance to do some extra activities [as well]."
Congressman Scott urged the recipients to use the financial award to make something of themselves. He recalled how he was able to pay for his first semester at Florida A&M University on a scholarship, and then used that semester to work toward earning additional scholarships.
"I am where I am, in Congress today, because of scholarships," Scott said. "This is a beginning. This is an opportunity for other scholarships. This is just a door opening for you to get started. Once you take that step ... there's going to be other opportunities along the way during your journey."
Lewis, who graduated from Woodland High School earlier this year with a 4.0 grade-point average (GPA), said she will use the scholarship to pay down some of the tuition costs associated with attending UGA. "I really think it will be helpful, because the cost to attend Georgia isn't as low as it is to attend other schools," she said. "Tuition isn't cheap anymore."
She said she plans to attend Emory University, for medical school, after she graduates from UGA, and ultimately, wants to work as a psychiatrist.
Walker, who finished at Jonesboro High School with a 3.6 GPA, said she has "already paid everything [tuition and room and board-wise] off, but I'll probably use this to purchase my books." She explained that, because of her field of study, she will likely have to buy several costly medical textbooks while she is at UGA.
She said she plans to eventually go to graduate school and enter the physical therapy field. Walker added that she "feels really great to get this scholarship."
Nguyen, who was Lovejoy High School's and Clayton County's 2011 Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) Student, was the only local scholarship recipient who did not attend the recognition ceremony. He graduated from Lovejoy with a 4.4 GPA, and chose to attend Yale over other "Ivy League" schools that had accepted him, including Harvard University and Brown University.
His father, Phong Duong, who did briefly attend the scholarship ceremony, said his son has been taking a real estate class, and is in the process of moving to Connecticut (where Yale is located). The father said the class conflicted with the time for the recognition event.
"He wanted to be here, and talk to everyone, but his teacher said, 'No, you can't do that,'" Duong said.