Local AKA chapter awards $20,000 in scholarships

By Ariel Worthy
The Birmingham Times
Students accepted awards for amounts of $1,000 and $2,500 from the Omicron Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha. (Ariel Worthy/The Birmingham Times)

The room was filled with women wearing pink and green as 13 students – 10 in high school and three in college – received between $1,000 and $2,500 in scholarships during the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Omicron Omega Chapter annual Bon Voyage Scholarship banquet.

The chapter, partnered with the Cultural and Educational Advancement, Inc. Foundation (CEAF), to award scholarships to students at Ramsay High School, P.D. Jackson Olin High School, Carver High School, A.H. Parker High School, Wenonah High School, Huffman High School and Miles College.

“We’re investing in our future by investing in these students,” said Nanette Baldwin, president of the Omicron Omega chapter. “I want them to stay focused, remember what their parents instilled in them, pray to their Higher Being and to know that if something happens in life that causes them to change course to never give up. I want them to remember that greatness comes from within.”

Attorney Ellise Washington speaks with the audience and students about her experience in college and how it shaped her into the woman that she is today. (Ariel Worthy/The Birmingham Times)

Ellise Washington, founder and principal attorney at Birmingham-based EMW Law LLC, was speaker for the banquet held at the Homewood Public Library and talked about the importance of investing in students.“[Our children] don’t often get to see those people who are where they want to be,” she said. “When I was in elementary school I didn’t know any lawyers, any doctors, any engineers. It’s important to show them the representation. We want to show them that it’s been done and they can do it.”

Carla Flakes, chairwoman of the scholarship committee, said the sorority gave out $17,000 last year compared to $20,000 this year and the money aligns with its mission.

“The scholarships are for boys, girls, and any race or nationality,” she said. “We have an awesome group of students. Most of them are valedictorians, they are energetic students, they have engineering internships, internships at UAB, and with attorneys.”

And they’re all so quiet and humble, she said. “Most of them have 4.0 GPAs. They already have their heads on straight. I just want them to continue to follow their dreams,” she said.