By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
Birmingham City Councilor Steven Hoyt on Tuesday awarded scholarships to 54 students through his Education with a Purpose program that provides high school seniors with funds for college.
Applicants are required to submit an essay detailing how they can make a positive impact in their community. The top 25 students received $400 scholarships and the remaining 29 students received a $100.
The COVID-19 pandemic altered how the program worked this year, Hoyt said.
“We started off in March trying to reward our young people, but we couldn’t finish the interviews because COVID changed that for us,” he said “. . . We were able to use Zoom and other technology . . . because I just thought it was important and even though there was a delay, there was a promise we would reward.”
Hoyt said the program normally gives out $1,000 and $500 scholarships “but you have 54 kids who need financial assistance . . . and I thought that was the best way (rewarding more students) we could do it and make sure we address all of our young people’s needs.”
Mya Brown, who received one of the $400 scholarships, is a graduate of Ramsay High School and freshman at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University in Normal, Alabama.
“To say the least, the first semester of my freshman experience was different but so was the world and if COVID-19 hasn’t taught me anything else, it has taught me the importance of being able to adapt to change,” Brown said. “I was a bit nervous and I didn’t know how virtual learning would go . . . I remained focus and ended my first semester with a 4.0 grade point average.”
For the past eight years, the scholarship program has awarded more than $88,000 in scholarships in conjunction with community leaders and partners.
“I’m honored to work with our community partners and Mr. Anthony Marino, [owner of Marino’s Market in Ensley] Chairman of Education with a Purpose who has been an invaluable part of its success,” Hoyt said.