Women in Focus, Inc. Scholarship Awards Program
The 2012 Women in Focus, Inc. scholarship recipients
Women in Focus, Inc. continued to stress the importance of education as they distributed scholarships to 13 outstanding area students at Edgewood College on Sunday, April 22.
The annual awards program was held in the Washburn Heritage Room of Regina Hall at Edgewood College and was attended by scholarship recipients, relatives, community members, and organizational representatives whose donations supported the scholarship program.
Mistress of Ceremonies for the annual event was Jan Studesville and the welcome was given by Teresita Torrence, president of the Women in Focus, Inc. (WIF).
“We are an organization that is committed to helping young people in this community achieve higher education by providing scholarships,” Torrence said. “So, we just really want to honor you [students] today. This is your day. We are so happy that you are here with us. As scholars, you have achieved academic greatness through your commitment, your dedication, and your hard work. We also want to acknowledge and say 'thank you' to your friends, family, and your mentors who are here supporting you.”
Torrence also thanked the Women in Focus, Inc. members who were in attendance, especially the Scholarship Committee and Scholarship Reception Committee. The Scholarship Committee was made up of Carol Lobes, Connie Smith, Brenda Brown, Rose Ann Brown, and Tina Murray. The Scholarship Reception Committee was made up of Jan Studesville, Edith Hilliard, Nannette Neal, and Cindy Rolling.
“Our Scholarship Committee works long and hard going through those applications and it's not an easy process selecting our winners,” Torrence said.
Every spring, WIF awards scholarships to minority students in the greater Madison community who have met educational criteria and have shown evidence of community service. The 2012 scholarship recipients honored at this year’s event were: Sergio Becerra-Ramirez of Madison East High School; Aaron Blake, Bella Sobah, Aysjah Valentine, Suriya Xiong, and Yarkeishia (Ke Ke) Burks of Madison LaFollette High School; Trinity Bobo of Sun Prairie High School; Olivia Collins and Ngijol Songolo of James Madison Memorial High School; Adaeze Okoli of Middleton High School; Tierra Smith of Verona Area High School; and Soohyun Suh of Verona High School;
Guest remarks were given by Wendy “Marisol” Wolfe, a 2011 WIF Scholarship Recipient. Wolfe attended Madison LaFollette High School and is currently a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“The money I received from the Women in Focus scholarship was really important to me and my family,” Wolfe said. “It meant that I wouldn't have to get a job during the school year and I would have more time to study. I'm very grateful for that blessing.”
Wolfe says that she tries to stay really busy on campus. She looks at the campus calendar every day and jots down the events. “I have a planner and a calendar and it's hard to balance it sometimes,” she said. “But I urge you all to try to meet as many people as possible and to get involved with as many things as you can. Take those opportunities. Go to events that you don't really know about. Put yourself out there. It can be really fun getting to know people.”
Wolfe advised the scholarship winners to get involved in Freshman Interest Groups (FIGs). FIG is a "learning community" of about 20 students who are enrolled in a cluster of three classes that are linked by a common theme. The main seminar course of each FIG enrolls only those 20 students and is taught by a faculty member who integrates into that class appropriate content from the other two classes linked to the cluster.
“The FIGs are awesome. They are a family,” Wolfe said. “This year I did a Chinese FIG. They have all kinds of FIGs – biology FIGs, engineering FIGs, science FIGs.... whatever you are interested in.”
Wolfe advised her future college freshman to try and use their time wisely.
“Get a mentor,” she said. “Get to know your advisor. They will open the doors to all kinds of opportunities for you. They are really interesting people.”
Established in 1983, Women In Focus is a 501(c )(3) organization of women whose mission is to support the education of minority children and youth through developing and maintaining programs which provide funding for education through scholarships, grants and educational materials; sponsoring and promoting charitable activities which create and enhance learning opportunities for youth and families; and supporting educational activities for low income youth.
Scholarships are awarded each spring to minority students in the greater Madison community. Recipients must meet educational criteria and show evidence of community service. Women In Focus, Inc. honors the achievement of these students and encourages their continued success in college and beyond. Awards are made in early spring and a reception is generally held in April.
The 13 scholarships are funded by the proceeds of the 2012 “I Have a Dream” Scholarship Banquet and Ball. Since 1986, Women In Focus, Inc. has awarded hundreds of scholarships to high school seniors and college students. Scholarships currently average $2,000 each. Recipients have chosen diverse career paths, including business, professional careers, music, medicine, dentistry, and art. The scholarships represent a small portion of current college tuition, yet students report that the community recognition of their abilities to succeed and the support are highly valued and meaningful for them.
The April 22 celebration also saw the awarding of the Miss Annie Mae McClain Scholarship to Jordan “Jodie” Pope who is currently attending Madison College. This scholarship is funded with the proceeds of an auction of 77 wonderful hats owned by Miss Annie Mae McClain during her lifetime. The hats were generously donated to WIF by Miss Annie Mae’s son Joe McClain and his wife, WIF member Carol Lobes. The McClains felt that Miss Annie Mae would want her beloved hats to contribute to the higher education of young people of color.
“Miss Annie Mae was a very special person. She passed away a number of years ago but she was always caring of young people and working very hard for them,” Lobes said.
The Women in Focus, Inc. gather for a picture at Edgewood College April 22
LEFT: 2012 WIF Scholarship recipient Ngijol Songolo of James Madison Memorial High School with his proud mother, Emilie
RIGHT: Guest speaker Wendy “Marisol” Wolfe, a 2011 WIF Scholarship recipient