Past Scholarship Winner: Liz Hansen

Welcome to Feature Friday! Where we showcase a new person each week in an interview. For past Feature Friday interviews, go here.

Today’s Feature Friday is highlighting Liz Hansen. Liz is a past scholarship winner, she received our Honors Graduation scholarship in 2019 and is now attending Marquette University. Here is an update on where Liz is now! 

Liz is double majoring in criminology and Spanish on a pre-law track. She joined the rock climbing club, which she is on the board for now. She also joined a sorority Alpha Chi Omega whose philanthropy is dedicated to supporting domestic violence and abuse victims as well as education on healthy relationships. 

When I asked Liz why she chose the sorority she did she said, “What drove me to join my sorority was really and truly how amazing and supportive the women are in it. Regarding our philanthropy, it’s something I’m truly passionate about; I feel that my calling is to help others. Domestic violence and abuse are a lot more prevalent than people realize because it doesn’t need to be just physical. There’s a huge gap in education on the subject and teaching others, especially college students, about what a healthy relationship looks like is so important. The women we help at the shelter are in need of support and resources, and our donations of time and money are so impactful on them.”

Liz’s project that won her the scholarship was a compost program for her high school that accompanied a community garden where she was Garden Chair for Pay it Forward. All of this was on a volunteer basis. She worked hard to create a project that would remain self-sufficient even after she left. While others maintained the garden and compost with a dedicated crew working on it and learning the ins and outs of compost, it did very well. 

Unfortunately due to COVID-19, the compost had to take a short halt. They are hoping to have it back up and running as soon as the school opens for in-person education. 

Liz writes: “My project truly has influenced how I look at my and my community’s lifestyles. I really value having other people around concerned about making environmentally friendly choices a habit. One thing I love about Marquette is that they have biodegradable silverware and take out ware, as well as a campus-wide compost program!”

We are so proud of Liz and the positive impact she has on her community. To learn more about our scholarship program for graduating high school seniors, check it out here!

Past Scholarship Winner: Austin Fitzgerald

Today’s Feature Friday post is a little different. We will be interviewing our past scholarship winner, Austin Fitzgerald. Austin won our scholarship in 2018 when she put together the Mindstrings Violin tutoring program. You can see her original video she submitted here. 

Austin has been at the University of Chicago for two years now. She has kept in contact with MindStrings and has been working on a way to become qualified for the program to accept donations. 

Since then, she has also become involved with a program on her campus called South Side Free Music Program. Her role is a violin teacher offering free lessons to the youth on the south side of Chicago. She is using this resource to hopefully have MindStrings expand to Chicago where she is located, however, COVID-19 threw off her plan. While Zoom and other online video call platforms may be an option, the majority of the students she would teach do not have this accessibility in their homes. This is something she is still working on. 

Another way Austin has found to serve with her music ability while at school is by playing the violin to cancer patients at UChicago’s hospital. This is part of her MindStrings outreach program and she is working on recruiting others to do this with her. 

Austin is double majoring in Pre-Medical and Anthropology with a biology minor, she has been busy in her studying! She is the current Co-President of the African and Caribbean Student Association at the University of Chicago. On top of this, she has been exploring her interests in childhood development and social mobility through her job as a research assistant at the Thirty Million Words Center for Early Learning + Public Health. Way to go Austin! 

We are extremely proud of Austin and all of her accomplishments at college, especially during this difficult time where the pandemic has halted some of her plans. 

If you would like to learn more about our scholarship and see how you can apply, check out our scholarship webpage. 

Announcing A 2020 Scholarship Winner: Hilton Stallworth

This is part of a series of interviews with our scholarship recipients for our 2020 Build A Better Future scholarship sponsored by Honors Graduation. We hope you will find their stories as inspiring as we do! For information on our 2020 program, click here”. 

Hilton Stallworth applied to our scholarship this last spring and we were incredibly impressed with his project. Hilton was enrolled in the magnet program at Enloe High school to be exposed to more rigorous classes and educational activities. Shortly after starting, he noticed that he was one of the few black students enrolled in these classes. The majority of his black peers were only enrolled in the standard public school classes. As he went into high school, there was an increased amount of students enrolled in the school, there was still a small number of black students pursuing advanced level classes. This being detrimental to both the students in the standard classes who aren’t performing highly, as well as the few in the advanced classes sometimes feeling discouraged and ostracized as if they didn’t belong there. 

This inspired Hilton to partner with the Black Student Union and create the “All the Stars Initiative” to close the academic achievement gap within Enloe High School by both increasing black student enrollment in advanced classes as well as increasing the performance in the classes in which the students are enrolled. The initiative has three pillars; Outreach, support, and incentive. Naturally, it starts with outreach and being able to get in touch with as many Enloe black students as possible and inform them of the program and opportunities available. Second comes support in which students would sign a pledge to the program, but also to each other stating they would support one another’s academic ventures through structured tutoring and encouragement. Finally, there is incentive which gives students short term goals to continue to fuel their drive for higher education and excellence. 

Hilton hopes that the program will gain the traction and recognition it needs to attract black families to the school due to stellar initiative. The other hope he has is that the program will become successful enough that other schools in the area will be inspired to implement their own version of the initiative, eventually turning All The Stars into a movement amongst the black community. Hilton is hopeful that people will see the true value in a program like this to continue to foster and invest their time in it so that it can positively affect the lives of the resident black students. 

Now that Hilton has graduated Enloe High School, he will be attending NC State University. Since he is attending college locally, he will be able to remain in close contact with the new leaders of the initiative and the Black Student Union. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, his plans to visit the students every few weeks came to a halt as they are all now doing virtual lessons. One thing he is doing, however, is attempting to work with the students at Enloe to figure out a way to have similar empowerment amongst the black students in a virtual format. Outside of high school, Hilton plans to actively encourage his black classmates in college to pursue academic excellence, as well as give back to their community.