Wilson Fund Scholarship Recipients excel academically, engage in civic and religious acts of service, and demonstrate a commitment to use their education to give back to our local, state and national communities.
Elizabeth Fulton, Lakeside HS, Georgia;
Christian Lesesne, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, California;
Eniola Ayo-Gbenjo, Reservoir HS, Maryland;
Harsh Patel, Orangeburg-Wilkinson HS, South Carolina;
Evamelo Oleita, Cass Technical HS, Michigan;
Mohammad Hemeida, Spring Early College Academy, Texas;
Angelina Xu, Ridge High School, New Jersey;
Fatimah Coppin, Benjamin N. Cardozo HS, New York; and
Chase Jones, School Without Walls, Washington DC
(From left to right, top to bottom row)
Ilhan Adan, Burnsville, MN – Mount Holyoke College
The 2020 recipient of the Dr. Dennis H. Nugent Memorial Award, Ilhan is pursing a degree in journalism. “I can have the ability to inspire a lot of kids who look like me to pursue their dreams in journalism because I can represent them in the best, authentic way. I can inspire my little brothers and sisters to pursue a college education and follow their dreams. I am a first-generation student and I can also provide the resources to help my younger siblings with any college and career-related thing.
Aliyah Daisie, Bronx, NY – Lehman College
Aliyah graduated her high school a year ahead of schedule as valedictorian and has a reputation for having an inquisitive nature, determination and personal character.
Earning my college degree would allow me to establish a stronger precedent for other people from my community. I can lead by example, pushing past the adversity that I faced while growing up in the Bronx to immigrant parents and by proxy people not believing in me.Aliyah Daisie, 2020 David & Dovetta Wilson Scholarship Recipient
Pearla Faith Hodo, Griffin, GA – Spelman College
2020 Kathlena Wilson Legacy Award RecipientPearla is committed to education as a means to perform good works for the community. “I believe that my college education would allow me to transcend boundaries by conducting research that focuses on the unique biological make up and lifestyles of people of color. I would work to integrate these discoveries into everyday health practices to improve the quality of life for people of color not only in my community, but around the world.”
Jay-Len McLean, Brooklyn, NY – Stony Brook University
Jay-Len is a first generation college student with a strong background in faith, justice and music. The 2020 Jeffrey Whitehead Memorial Award recipient, Jay-Len shares: “[S]eeing my neighborhood plagued with violence, drugs, and chaos has inspired me to dedicate my life to criminal law and prosecuting those who poison the minds of our young people. As I venture to college and beyond, I hope that this will inspire a new tradition of pursuing education, prospering and living long lives with purpose.”
Netania Muhammad, Franklin Square, NY – Sarah Lawrence College
Netania has a strong service background and exhibits a drive to bring that call to service back to her community. A recipient of the 2020 Mother Elnora Johnson and Mother Rosalind Bush Award, she hopes to use her education to combine her loves in art and science. “[This scholarship is] an investment in me and in my community. Like David and Dovetta Wilson, I, too, believe my roots are a part of my academic and artistic development. It is my responsibility and my honor to give back to those that shaped me and to carry forward the Wilsons’ legacy of service.”
James Shiffer, Danville, CA – UCLA
James is a talented and hard working student who has extensive experience volunteering in his community and success in many different scholastic and artistic arenas. He dedicates much of his time toward building online community and educating the next generation of computer programmers. James is committed to pursing a degree in computer engineering.
Marisol Quon Torro, Los Angeles, CA – Stanford University
The 2020 Jordan Timothy Wilson Award recipient, Marisol is committed to working with, and for, others to create a better world for those with developmental disabilities, and she ties her passions to her academic path; “I aim to combine my expertise in human developmental biology and judo to produce a more comprehensive guide to teaching judo to those with developmental disabilities.” Marisol’s dedication and ability to balance her academics, athletics, and volunteer work has already allowed her to rise to the top of her field at an international level as a nationally and internationally ranked Judo Cadet.
Susan Varghese, Missouri City, TX – Texas A & M University
Susan has an acute recognition of the obstacles immigrants face in accessing health care and finding jobs. The 2020 Batya Lewton Award of Inspiration recipient, Susan intends to major in public health. “People do not realize how hard life can be until they plant a few million grains of rice wearing plastic shoes. People do not realize what it means to struggle to survive. Whatever else I do in my life, the one thing I know I will not do is take the gifts I have been given for granted. I have seen the face of true poverty. Seeing the truth helped me overcome my own insecurities and take charge of my destiny.”
Leo Williams, Beverly Hills, MI – California Institute of Technology
An Eagle Scout with an outstanding academic and athletic background and commitment to family, community and education, Leo plans to pursue a degree in biomedical engineering. He is the 2020 recipient of the Emeel S. Betros Award.
I want to be an example for young people, especially young black people who may not otherwise see anybody who looks like them in medicine or engineering.Leo Williams, 2020 Wilson Fund Scholar
Kennedy Bivins, Dallas, TX – Lamar University
A first generation college student who credits her mother and grandmother with inspiring her to attend college, Kennedy is a dynamic young woman committed to becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. She hopes to inspire others and contribute to her home community through academic and career success. Kennedy is the 2019 Kathlena Wilson Legacy Award Recipient.
Allison Bunkers, Sartell, MN – Bethel University
Allison is studying Elementary Education with Early Childhood Endorsement at Bethel University. A recipient of the 2019 Mother Elnora Johnson and Mother Rosalind Bush Award, Allison is active in her church and an excellent student who believes in the full circle of community and investing in youth.
“Teaching has always been a passion of mine and being with children has always given me great joy. I believe that school is place where a child begins to learn and develop who they are as a person. When you work with children, you have the opportunity to impact them now, impact their futures, and they have the chance to impact every person they meet….if I can change the life of even one child, inspire even one child, or love even one child, I will have succeeded in my life’s mission.”
Allison Bunkers, 2019 Wilson Fund Scholar
Kamerin Harris, Washington D.C. – Temple University
After spending much of her high school career heavily involved in civic participation, Kamerin heads to Temple University to major in Journalism. “I chose to major in journalism because of my passion for the truth in news, my strong work ethic and my commitment to words and their transformative power. Many youths in my community do not understand their value and have no idea where to begin the journey towards reaching their full potential.”
Celine Nguyen, Austin, TX – Rice University
Celine has an outstanding record of involvement in her home community both in academic organizations such as HOSA and in leadership roles such as National Pediatric Cancer Foundation Ambassador. Double majoring in SOPA and Psychology, Celine seeks to get involved in mental health internships or policy work. The 2019 Jeffrey Whitehead Memorial Award recipient, Celine hopes to use her education to “promote awareness about [mental illnesses] and start a nonprofit to help those suffering to obtain support and free counseling all over the world. I hope to open up a clinic in Austin, Texas, the city where I grew up…”
Niah Nhi Hoang Pham, Houston, TX – University of Texas Austin
Niah graduated summa cum laude and served as president of her school’s HOSA while simultaneously participating in a variety of other endeavors such as orchestra and track & field. Niah plans to major in Biochemistry and desires to one day mentor girls in STEM; travel internationally and raise educational awareness in her parents’ respective hometowns in the Philippines and Vietnam.
Jaden Robinson, Yorktown, VA – East Carolina University
The 2019 Jordan Timothy Wilson Award recipient, Jaden intends to study public health and psychology at East Carolina University. He hopes to “change the narrative surrounding mental health issues in the black community and there are certainly not enough African American men in the field. Pursuing a career as a Psych Nurse Practitioner will put me in a position to help other young men like me and change the negative connotation surrounding mental health issues in the black community.”
William Sands, San Antonio, TX – Vanderbilt University
A cofounder of the WES non profit organization, William is dedicated to advancing the lives of young people through education and athletics. Currently playing on the Vanderbilt University football team, William intends to pursue a degree in electrical and biomedical engineering.
“When I complete my degree … I plan to return to San Antonio and educate our community about advanced technology and innovative devices that can help individuals who have experienced neurological trauma. “
William Sands, 2019 Wilson Fund Scholar
Nayah Weston, Fayetteville, GA – University of Georgia
An exceptional student with a passion for international affairs and languages, Nayah aspires to a career as a Foreign Service Officer. She intends to focus on fighting human sex trafficking, an issue that affects individuals all over the world, as well as close to her hometown in Georgia. Nayah is the 2019 Emeel Betros Memorial Award recipient.
Julian Woods, Atlanta, GA – North Carolina A&T
2019 Batya Lewton Award recipient
Britta Cowan, Chaska, MN – University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music
A stellar student with a long background in theatre ministry and a senior project empowering the victims of sexual abuse to share their stories, Britta has a clear vision for her future. “Through my musical theater education, I will have the ability to make a positive impact on my community by providing the opportunity for open dialogue and social change through art.”
Andrew Culbreath, Hempstead, NY – Five Towns College
Andrew works toward his BFA at Five Towns College. He has extensive experiences volunteering with the youth ministry of Zion Cathedral, and has won multiple awards for his work with the police explorers and in advocacy and essay contests. His HS activities centered around law, drama, art and chorus. He hopes to serve as an example for his community.
“It is good to know there are people in this world that are willing to help young people along the way. My role in this world is to leave it better than it is now. It is my prayer that I can make an impact in my community as I continue to grow. Receiving this special scholarship is just what a young man like me needs to help achieve my goals.”
Andrew Culbreath, 2018 Wilson Fund Scholar
David Daniels, Flushing, NY – Morehouse College
A volunteer with ABC’s Childcare, David’s talents have “helped transform the lives of the young people in the program.” He is responsible for the creation and implementation of the Dare to Care program which organizes young people to help senior citizens in his community. David’s merit is well attested by many of his school and local government leaders. At Morehouse, David will major in the social sciences field where he “can work with and advocate for people in need.”
Juan De La Garza, Corpus Christi, TX – Rice University
Valedictorian of his high school, Juan established a program providing free test prep to students to help them overcome financial barriers to college access. Juan plans to use his college education in Mechanical Engineering to establish STEM opportunities for young people in his home community.
Christopher Dimitropoulos, Corona, CA – UCSD
An AP Scholar with Distinction from Corona, CA, Chris plans to study Human Biology and earn his MD so that he might help advance the technique of immunotherapy and assist cancer patients in need. The son of a Mexican immigrant, Chris credits his success and passion for medicine to the influence and sacrifices of his mother, an RN, and he hopes earning scholarship will lessen the burden on her.
Marquise Downing, Attleboro, MA – Ohio Wesleyan State University
An Eagle Scout, Marquise plans to study microbiology at OWU. Hoping his studies will contribute to the prevention of contagious diseases, an endeavor that “is very important to human life and society as a whole,” He is also on the OWU NCAA Division III football team, the fulfillment of a dream to both play and study his preferred major of choice. Marquise aspires to improve the livelihood of his personal and broader community.
Ashley Frazier, Laurelton, NY – University of Richmond
Ashley was the president of her high school Anime Club. A youth usher, she has also involved been in her local church UCC Unity in Praise Dance Ministry and a member of the Victory Youth Organization. At U of R, she plans to major in a STEM field, and minor in French or music. Ashley has spoken to the confidence that the DDWSF scholarship has given her as she embarks on this exciting collegiate journey.
“Leaving my community and going to a different state is scary yet exciting and through the David & Dovetta Wilson Scholarship I know that my community supports me and they believe in me. With this, I … know that any challenge that I’ll go through, I have the confidence that I can make through it. I’d like to thank you for giving me this confidence and supporting my endeavors.”
Ashley Frazier, 2018 Wilson Fund Scholar
Joshua Springer, Washington, DC – Hampton University
Joshua plans to focus his studies in the field of Cyber Security and Software Engineering. Active in his H.S. TransSTEM program and Army JROTC, Joshua hopes his journey in overcoming personal adversity and attending college will one day encourage other young people from his home community of Washington, D.C.
Zaria Howell, E. Stroudsburg, PA – Northwestern University
A leader in her school community (Track Capt., Pres. of the Feminist club and more), Zaria has a background in freelance work for publications such as the New York Amsterdam News. Zaria plans to major in Journalism and shed light on controversial issues, “whether that be the marginalization of the LGTBQ community, or the oppression of the black community, or the gender disparities that exist in our society.”
“Before I was even accepted to a college, or had begun the application process, I was fully aware of the financial obstacles that had the ability to prevent me from pursuing higher education. My family and I knew I was going to college, but how we were financially going to do this was a separate, and less secure, concept…. [Read more]Zaria Howell, 2018 Wilson Fund Scholar, for The New York Amsterdam News
A 2012 DDWSF Scholar recipient, Chelsea Saunders is now an illustrator and designer residing in New York. After studying neuroscience for two years, she realized her passion was art. Since graduating from Boston University in 2016, she has decided to pursue her dream of specializing in editorial illustration. Her work has been published in Current Affairs Magazine, The Nib, and more. DDWSF was thrilled to have Chelsea join us as featured speaker for the 2019 Annual Awards Luncheon.
Learn more about Chelsea and see her work here: https://www.chelseasaunders.me/