Just as it has for nearly 40 years, the Third Unitarian Church awarded scholarships to college-bound West Siders.
Seventeen high school graduates who live or have attended school in Austin received the $1,000 awards earlier this month at a special awards ceremony, said Barbara Minor, a member of the church’s scholarship committee. Funds for the scholarships were raised through community fundraisers, Minor said.
Each of the 17 recipients exhibited exemplary academic achievement, proficient test scores and a record of community service, she said.
Sunniva Holmlund, a J. Sterling Morton High School West graduate, said she’s thankful the scholarship will help her attend Illinois Wesleyan University.
Holmlund plans to major in theater, which she has been involved with since childhood. In high school she performed in Spotlight Youth Theater, which she described as a significant part of her life.
She’s been a member of Third Unitarian for six years. After graduating college, she plans to organize a community theater in Austin, because she wants to see more arts in the neighborhood.
“It’s helped me grow, and it’s changed who I am. And it’s given me the confidence to go out and audition,” Holmlund said.
She advises students to apply for any and all scholarships they’re eligible for and to seek as much financial aid as possible.
Adam Harris, a Providence St. Mel graduate who spoke at the June 2nd ceremony, plans to study film and business at Washington University in St. Louis.
During his speech, Harris said he spoke about becoming an aspiring filmmaker.
“I enjoyed the experience as a whole, because this church did things differently, [and the ceremony] was very relaxed,” Harris said.
The church’s Austin scholarship program was founded 39 years ago by members of Third Unitarian who wanted to help students with college expenses, Minor said.
“Back then, we were giving students about $250, but now we’re giving students $1,000 [each],” Minor said.
Minor hopes the students will receive a quality college education – then return to give back to Austin.
“My personal hope is that they will go away, get a very good education and come back to this community and be a positive role model to other students in the community,” Minor said.
Here’s a list of the other scholarship recipients, the high schools they attended and where they plan to go to college:
Karl Brown, Rezin Orr Academy, University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign
Ashley Conley, Frederick Douglass Academy, Joilet Junior College
Charion Doss, Providence St. Mel, University of Chicago
Jaquen Grier, Loyola Academy, St. Norbert College
Aliyah Abu-Hazeem, William H. Wells Community Academy, Oberlin College
Marquin Hopkins, William H. Wells Community Academy, Northern Illinois University
Chaunida Jones, Oak Park River Forest, Southern Illinois University
Kissqwanna King, Michele Clark, Lincoln University
DaMarcus Lacy, De La Salle Institute, Harvard University
Hugo Lopez, Benito Juarez Community Academy, Illinois Institute of Technology
Rashawn McKinnie, John Marshall Metropolitan Academy, Malcolm X College
Omar Redmond, Thornridge , Waldorf College
Tionna Rogers, Hugh Manley Career Academy, Vincennes University
Marcus Sims, John Marshall Metropolitan Academy, Malcolm X College
Jasmine Wright, Providence St. Mel, University of Chicago