ST. CROIX, U.S.V.I., July 14, 2022. St. Croix Foundation is pleased to announce that $15,000 in scholarships has been awarded to three St. Croix youth on Thursday, July 14th, at a virtual presentation at St. Croix Foundation (SCF) headquartered in Sunday Market Square. Scholarships were made possible through the fifth annual cycle for the Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund and SCF’s Foundation Scholars Fund.
Established in 2018, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Williams Opportunity Fund evolves each year to fill gaps in the support system for young people who have and continue to navigate rapidly changing and challenging academic environments. In 2022, and in close collaboration with Junior Gaspard, founder of the Williams Opportunity Fund, SCF assessed through student data, surveys, and interviews of past candidates that support for awardees while they progress through their academic careers is critical as federal aid decreases and coursework intensifies.
Given the data, the spirit of The Fund, and in acknowledgment of the unique challenges the 2021 Cohort has and continues to overcome in pursuit of secondary studies, SCF’s Grants Review Committee awarded three (3) scholarships of $5,000 each to the following recipients of the Fund’s 2021 scholarship cycle, now sophomores at their respective places of study:
- Abigail Valery, Temple University, Major: Music Education
- Caliyah Helliger, Howard University, Major: Biology
- Sanaa Burke, University of Delaware, Major: Climatology/Meteorology
2022 recipients were required to demonstrate progress by submitting a formal application that included transcripts, letters of reference, and a four-minute video presentation in which candidates were asked to speak to the reality of their challenges during their first year at university. Carefully reviewed by SCF’s Grants Committee, applicants spoke about overcoming the very real obstacles of grappling with severe winter weather and “culture shock” while maintaining a rigorous course load in a new city– all amid continued changing conditions around COVID-19. Despite these many challenges, applicants demonstrated their ability to assess, to reflect deeply, and to shift when necessary to achieve their goals.
Fund Donor, Junior Gaspard (a St. Croix native and graduate of Central High School and John H. Woodson Junior High School) stated that “The aim of establishing this Fund was to honor my grandparents, Patrick and Amelia Williams, by helping our young people to achieve long-lasting, life-changing goals.” Gaspard, who presents awards annually to scholarship recipients, continued that, “Beginning the journey towards any goal is hard, but continuing along the journey and completing it requires tenacity and commitment. The level of perseverance and adaptability that our awardees showed in adjusting to new environments while continuing to succeed academically is inspirational. We are thrilled to continue to support them as they move into the next year of their collegiate career.”
To date, the Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund has awarded a total of $59,000 in scholarships to 11 students who have had to overcome unprecedented difficulties throughout their high school tenure and early university education. 2022 scholarship recipient Abigail Valery, who is studying classical flute at Temple University expressed her appreciation, stating that “I would like to thank St. Croix Foundation and the Gaspard family for their support and belief in me. There are not many scholarships available for secondary studies in the arts, and this helps to lift my family’s burden. But perhaps most importantly, having this come from my own community, my own people, it empowers me to continue. Thank you.”
St. Croix Foundation extends its deepest appreciation to the Gaspard family for their partnership and philanthropic spirit as well as the Foundation’s Grants Review Committee for its engagement. The Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund welcomes donations to allow for additional students to be provided the chance to pursue their education.
For more information about the Williams Opportunity Fund and to find out how you can support this special scholarship opportunity and those like it for our young people, please contact St. Croix Foundation at 340-773-9898 or visit our website at www.stxfoundation.org to learn more.