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Hester Richardson Powell Memorial Service Scholarship

5 winners, $500 each
Application Deadline
Feb 28, 2025
Winners Announced
Mar 28, 2025
Education Level
High School
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
High school senior
African American
2.7 or higher

Hester Richardson Powell was a strong and caring mother who overcame many barriers in her almost 92 years of life. 

Hester was the sixth of twelve children, the daughter of sharecroppers, and the granddaughter of enslaved individuals. Though her parents did not have much formal education, Hester and all of her siblings earned college degrees or became entrepreneurs.

As a lifelong educator, Hester inspired thousands of her students to become productive citizens as business owners, administrators, educators, and clinicians. Hester also lived a life of service to her community and church, making an impact on all she knew. 

This scholarship seeks to honor the life of Hester Richardson Powell by supporting students who share her spirit of love and service.

Any female, African American high school senior who has at least a 2.7 GPA may apply for this scholarship.

To apply, tell us how you’ve demonstrated resilience to inspire someone else.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published May 13, 2024
Essay Topic

How have you demonstrated resilience to inspire someone else?

400–600 words

Winners and Finalists

March 2023

Trinity Meekins
Nevaeh W
Jada Sloan
Evangelyne Cine
Victoria Bosompem
Mya Sanders
Haniyyah Hamilton
Paula Landrum
Ameerah Facey
Adrienne Martin
Mercy Nwachukwu
Kharlee Gandy
JaNiya Richardson
Naiya Nathan
Yasmin Snyder
olivia keith
Miya Graham
Jhonni Dixon
Kennedy Simpson
Asha Puri

Winning Application

Olivia Doucette
Pamlico County HighORIENTAL, NC
I am Olivia Sunshine Doucette, formerly Olivia Brown, formerly Olivia Johnson, and I just may never know my real birth surname. I was born addicted to methamphetamines and it actually went downhill from there. I "suffered" severe abuse and neglect (so say the Social Services reports) from birth to the age of four when I was put into foster care. I had been removed from my birth mother and reunited with her eight times. The last time I was taken I was found by a city worker, crawling down the street wearing only a filthy diaper. The police found the trailer with my birth mother and were unable to rouse her. There was no food, no clothes, no electricity...just empty bottles, cigarettes and drug paraphernalia scattered about. I lived in four different foster homes and was adopted by a white family at age seven. I only state "white family" because I am Hispanic/African American and my adoptive parents were very different from me and the people I was used to. I had a lot of difficulty trusting and adjusting. It seemed like endless behavior issues...I couldn't focus, I couldn't control my anxiety, I just couldn't.... My adoptive parents seemed to be at their wits end. I was diagnosed with severe ADHD due to methamphetamine exposure. Therapy and medication started at age eight. Although this helped, I was still unable to control myself a lot of the time. My parents found the United Martial Arts Family Center. I have received gold, silver and bronze medals in forms and sparring. I am a brown with black belt. Martial Arts helped me develop respect, confidence and self discipline. This was one of the first positive factors in life and helped me to start believing in myself. I began playing violin in elementary school and my soul was touched. My love for music got me through some of my darkest hours. I went on to teach myself guitar and piano, but my true passion was found in song writing. In high school I explored band, orchestra, and sound design. I truly enjoy writing and mixing music. As I progressed into high school I seemed to have more and more difficulty academically and emotionally, but music was my haven. It has always seemed to me that I have to work twice as hard to get half as far as my peers, but I persevered. I struggled, I did, especially in math, but as unbelievable as it is, I am graduating from Pamlico County High School with a 3.1 GPA and I have been accepted to Elizabeth City State University as a music major. I never thought this was an option for me. I have recently begun to develop a relationship with my adoptive parents. is never too late. Never. My adoptive mother never gave up on me and deep inside that made "me" never give up on me. My adoptive mother, my mother, the only mother I have known, recently shared a story of strength with me. When we met she said I told her about how I saved my birth mother and half sister from a pool full of snakes. I told her I dove into the pool and I took all the bites in order to rescue them which is how I got all my scars. My snake bites are cigarette burns. My mother cried and said she knew my strength right then. I not only found a way to survive, I found a way to flourish. Here I am. I am Olivia Sunshine Doucette.
Morgan Robinson
Cheltenham High SchoolCHELTENHAM, PA
As a young black student, the absence of representation weighed heavily on me. Rarely did I encounter teachers or classmates who looked like me or shared my cultural background. In the absence of role models who mirrored my own experiences, I often felt overlooked and marginalized. However, rather than succumbing to despair, I drew strength from the knowledge that representation matters. I realized that by embracing my identity and voice, I could serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration for future generations.One of my greatest aspirations is to become a black obstetrician, a field in which representation is sorely lacking. According to recent statistics, black women make up only a small fraction of obstetricians in the United States, comprising just 2% of the workforce. This stark underrepresentation not only highlights the urgent need for greater diversity in medicine but also underscores the importance of role models who can inspire future generations of aspiring healthcare professionals.My journey of resilience and determination has not only shaped my own aspirations but has also inspired those closest to me, including my younger sister Maya. At just 11 years old, Maya had already internalized the notion that her options within the medical field were limited by the lack of representation she observed around her. Like me, she felt constrained by the pervasive image of predominantly white doctors, struggling to envision herself breaking into a field where she felt she didn't belong.However, when I shared with Maya my own aspirations of becoming a black doctor, something shifted within her. Suddenly, the barriers that once seemed insurmountable began to crumble, replaced by a newfound sense of possibility and empowerment. Seeing someone she admired and looked up to pursue their dreams with unwavering determination sparked a flame of inspiration within Maya. For the first time, she dared to imagine herself following in my footsteps and pursuing a career in medicine.My resilience became a guiding light for Maya, showing her that representation matters and that her dreams are not bound by the limitations imposed by societal norms. Through my example, Maya learned that she too could defy expectations and carve out her own path, regardless of the color of her skin or the barriers she may face along the way.Maya has the power to inspire future generations of aspiring healthcare professionals, paving the way for a more diverse and inclusive future in medicine. Together, we stand as living testament to the transformative power of resilience, determination, and the unwavering belief in the boundless potential that resides within each of us. And as Maya sets forth on her own path, I am confident that she will continue to inspire and uplift those around her, leaving an indelible mark on the world and shaping the future of medicine for generations to come.
An’Yake Lewis
East Allen UniversityFort Wayne, IN
Growing up, my little sister and I shared a room. I was the oldest so the condition of the room was assigned to me. It was like every other Sunday in the house. The one day where my family focuses on deep cleaning the house and family bonding time. I didn’t understand why we had to clean every Sunday but the reason my mom gave was that a clean house would keep us less stressed throughout the week. As expected at age four and eight, the room was an explosion of paint, make-up, dolls, and clothes. That Sunday, I spent all morning cleaning up the mess that me and my sister made. Sweeping, mopping, the whole nine yards. I think it was my best clean yet but before the day was over all my hard work was ruined. At the time, I thought my sister was having a really bad tantrum and choosing to ruin the room. It wasn’t until later, when my mom explained to me that my sister was having a hard time regulating her emotions and that she would help me clean the room again. She told me to forgive my sister because she doesn’t know any better. My sister suffers from severe chronic anxiety. I didn't know it then, but I did know that I loved her and I was going to support her through her highs and lows. During junior year of high school, my friend passed away over thanksgiving break. Our friendship was a little on the rocks after a huge argument and I was not compromising. I was very frustrated. I knew that I should have just forgiven her but my habit of holding grudges would not let me. The night before Thanksgiving break, she asked if I could give her a ride to school. It was something I have always done before our fight and I was not going to leave my friend to walk in the snow. The day after Thanksgiving break, I called and texted her, expecting to take her to school. When she didn’t answer, I assumed that she found another ride. It wasn’t until later that day, that I found out she passed the night before. For the next 2 weeks, I locked myself in my room every chance I had. I basically shut down, I wouldn’t leave my bed unless I had too. It was a constant repetition of school and home, but I couldn’t actually do work. I had no motivation to continue anything. I felt like dying. I was considering quitting school and dropping out because if she didn’t get a chance at life, a chance to succeed, why should I? It was not until I reminded myself of our plans for life. This became my motivation to continue on with my life. Even though I couldn't academically recover from her passing, I rebuilt myself emotionally and socially. She motivated me to achieve my dreams and to live life like it isn’t guaranteed. This made me realize that caring for people, helping improve or just giving them the best care I can provide was my passion. Caring for people psychologically has become my passion after seeing others in my community suffer and receive little to no help. I plan on opening my own non profit organization to advocate for mental health in low income families and ethnic communities. My life’s goal is to implement programs for affordable mental health care and advocate for the improvement of mental health in low income and ethnic communities. My career aspiration is to be a child and adolescent psychiatrist.
Miracle Nwosu
Texas Southern UniversityHouston, TX
For one to demonstrate resilience, they must know the true meaning. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks, embrace challenges, and adjust through difficult circumstances with grace and strength. It is a crucial characteristic that empowers one to endure and thrive despite harsh encounters. Usually, it takes a dedicated personal journey, shaped by unique experiences that test one's limits and push them to discover their strength within. My own journey of resilience was very unexpected when I landed myself in alternative school over a reaction based off blur emotions. At first, it seemed like a setback. I thought I would fall behind educational wise. However, it turned out to be a very vital moment in my life. Not only did I learn to face challenges, get ahead in classes, and think before I react. I also learned the true definition of resilience. Resilience is not just about-facing difficulties; it is about embracing them as opportunities for growth. Despite the environment of alternative school being unfamiliar to me, I realized that this experience allowed me to see things differently, promoting a mindset of adaptability and perseverance. The stigma developed around alternative education could have slowed down my progress, but instead, it put me ahead of my peers. I used it as an encouragement for personal and academic development. Maintaining my grades in this challenging setting required a level of dedication and self-discipline that I might not have developed at my home school. I learned to take responsibility for my own education path, seeking out resources and support when needed. This process not only improved my performance academically, but also created a sense of independence and resilience that helped me inside and outside the classroom. For example, my experience in the alternative school taught me the importance of learning from mistakes. Rather than dwelling on setbacks, I embraced them as opportunities to grow and improve. This mindset shift was vital in building my resilience, as it allowed me to view challenges not as obstacles but as steppingstones to success. I plan to inspire others to build resilience by sharing my personal stories and demonstrating the transformative power I had when facing challenges head-on. By being transparent about my alternative school journey, I can encourage others to look at setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning. Resilience is not a trait that only select few can gain but a skill that can be obtained through experience and a positive mindset. In conclusion, resilience is a great quality that empowers one to overcome challenges and thrive in the face of misfortunate. My journey through an alternative school served as a unique and transformative experience that not only allowed me to maintain my grades but also shaped my perspective on life all together. By sharing my story, I hope to inspire others to embrace challenges, learn from their mistakes, and develop the resilience needed to navigate the complexities of life.
Mercedes Ryan
Canton Junior-Senior High SchoolCanton, PA
Resilience is the ability to adapt when in difficult situations. Being a resilient person has always been very important to me, this is because I have experienced various setbacks in my life whether it may be school, mentally, or family-wise. Instead of letting negative things take over my life, I have decided to use them to help people. After experiencing all of the negative I didn't know what to do, that was until I stumbled upon psychology. When I found this major I knew that it would be the thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It has always been really important that I help people in life it's the thing that brings me infinite joy. By studying psychology and becoming a therapist I can do just that. Although, I am studying psychology to help people I am also studying psychology to inspire people that life gets better. About a year ago I was the farthest from okay mentally I was convinced that I had no purpose in life and that I would be stuck in a constant state of depression. Overcoming my depression was a long process but I am beyond grateful that I finally did because I can now use my own experience to empathize and inspire people going through similar situations. Since, I haven't started studying psychology yet I have come up with different ways to help my community. I am currently running a coat drive to provide for the people in my community who don't have or are unable to afford coats this winter. This has been such a beautiful project to plan It is amazing to see the amount of people who love to help with different volunteer opportunities. By planning this event I hoped to inspire the people in my community to want to contribute to helping people in need and with the help of some local businesses and churches we are doing just that. Lastly, I believe that my resilience is one of the most important character traits I possess, this is because I believe by having this trait I can show and inspire my siblings to always work for the things they want and that they can achieve them. If you had told me a year ago that I applied to college and am running a coat drive I never would have believed you, but I did. I am so grateful that they have experienced my success and failure because without failure there would be no growth.
Danielle Harris
University of Maryland-College ParkBurtonsville, MD
I was a freshman when I first joined the marching band in high school. I played the trombone, which I had been playing since fourth grade. At first I was very shy and didn’t know or talk to many people in the band. I never really broke out of my shell during freshman year of marching band. During my freshman year I was taking a beginning percussion class in addition to playing the trombone. I was planning on learning the drums so that I could switch into the drumline during my sophomore year of marching band. My sophomore year was when the pandemic hit, so we didn’t have a marching band season that year. As a junior, I was finally able to play the drums in the marching band. I was in a new section and I only knew a few people. I was also the only female bass drum player which made it even harder to connect with the others. Thankfully, the drumline leadership was very welcoming and made me feel comfortable. They were also very supportive. They would congratulate me whenever I played well, which made me feel so much better as a new drummer. Because of the leadership I had as a new drummer I became a more confident player and member of the band. This year, as a senior bass drum player, I was the leader of my section. A new freshman joined as an addition to the section. I saw a lot of freshman-year me in her. She was very shy and timid. She was very soft spoken, and she would often stay in the background. Because of this I knew I really had to take her under my wing, even more so than the other bass drum players. I knew that as a leader I had to be supportive and encouraging, just like how the previous bass drum leader had been toward me. I was always giving her extra directions, even if she didn’t ask for it, telling her she did a good job, and doing anything else to make her feel as comfortable and confident as possible. I pushed her to be a better drummer and marcher, and in doing so she was pushing me to be a better leader. It was so heartwarming to see her progress as the season went on. She has broken out of her shell and become so much more confident and it feels great to know that I had a part in that.
Michelle Cartwright
Salisbury HighSalisbury, NC
At one point this year I felt that my senior failures would soon have a domino effect on the rest of my life. This year, I fought hard for countless opportunities that I was denied. People who I thought were my friends even rooted for me to fail. As a straight-A, athletic student who has been familiar with my classmates since elementary school, these outcomes shocked me, to say the least. I lost senior class President, homecoming Queen and stepped down from my dance captain position, and quit the team. I asked myself if I can’t be successful in simple things such as these, what will the future look like for me? Throughout all of these trials my family witnessed it all. They always supported me in these endeavors and loved me no matter what. Most importantly my little sister had seen it all, the frustration, the tears, and the burnout. After my homecoming campaign ended I took time to reflect on everything that had happened and how it made me feel to know that I won’t always get everything I think I deserve. I questioned if I lacked, if my peers were envious, or if I just didn’t deserve anything I applied myself to. Soon cheer tryouts were advertised at my school. I didn’t even consider it because of all of my losses. I even talked to my sister about it and nonchalantly addressed the matter. She agreed. She explained she would not even attempt the line leader position in her class, hall monitor, or even student of the week because even if she does everything right she could still walk away with nothing. Hearing such a discouraging attitude from her catapulted me into a pool of realization and concern for my sister. I sat silently for a while then explained as if I was being enlightened as I spoke. I told her that success isn’t defined by the titles you receive and failure is only that if you let it be. Instead of lecturing her, I decided to lead by example. I tried out for cheerleading and made the varsity team, I became secretary of the Salisbury Youth Council and I won a $5,000 scholarship by a landslide at an oratorical contest and left with almost every trophy that I could’ve possibly won there. Through it all my sister saw that I got back up. I waved at her from the bleachers with my pom poms, I winked at her as I repeated my oath at my inauguration as secretary, and she saw the 1st prize medal placed around my neck as I claimed the oratorical contest victory. Those moments showed her if you let setbacks prevent you from opportunities for further success, you have truly accomplished failure. If you regret the pursuit of the positions you lost you will label yourself unsuccessful. Even though I did not become class president I made so many friends from the campaign. When I lost homecoming Queen almost everyone in attendance complimented my gown, congratulated me, and even invited me to a pageant. Now that I no longer dance, I have sharpened a new skill, gained high school experiences, and true friends. Those aspects of those moments are what define who I am and how successful I am whether I am acknowledged or not. My resilience inspired my sister to pursue anything she puts her mind to because if she does her best, knows her worth, and sees the good in all she attempts she knows now she can never truly fail.
Mel Outlaw
University of North Carolina at CharlotteHanover, MD
It was a bitterly cold day in January, as I sat in the back seat of one of the volunteer’s cars, nervous and reluctant knowing that I would be spending the day with brand-new people in an unfamiliar place. It was the first time I would be traveling to take part in SALT, “Serving all with Love Together”, a group that travels to Baltimore to serve breakfast to the homeless on weekends. Service has been integrated into my curriculum since freshman year, but as a junior, this was the first time I was able to participate in person due to COVID. Although I was excited to finally be able to interact and talk to those I was helping, there was a degree of nervousness and worry. I would be in a new environment surrounded by completely new people as I was one of the only ones from my school. Despite my concerns, I pushed past the anxiety and put my best foot forward knowing the goal of service is to ultimately help others. As I passed out the steaming oatmeal to those waiting in line, an older woman with stained clothes approached me. She said in a soft tone, “Thank you for coming down here, it means a lot to me when you guys do this. It makes my week.” At that moment, this simple statement changed my whole narrative on service. After hearing this kind of woman's words, I immediately felt a sense of happiness and motivation to continue this work. Throughout time as I kept traveling to Baltimore on the weekends, she recognized me and I found comfort in our familiar bond. I was a part of making someone’s life better and that was so meaningful. I was no longer nervous about participating in the service. Instead, I wanted to do it for the joy that it brought me and others. Soon thereafter, I became involved in even more service opportunities such as assisting the elderly and providing entertainment to children of impoverished families and looked forward to assisting and donating my time. Eventually, I continued to serve even after my service hour quota was met. Not only did this experience spark a passion in me to help others, but it taught me different views on judgment. Seeing and helping those in need opened my mind to others’ experiences and instilled in me not to make assumptions based on one’s background. Although I was only there on weekends, I saw into their worlds and was able to see things from their point of view. Even for a short period, I experienced the environment they live in which often lacked the basic needs of security and adequate shelter. People struggle every day with not having enough money to feed themselves or mental health issues and often we don’t know their story from afar. However, if we could all be more compassionate and show kindness to those we do not know, the world might become more united. Service has shifted from an obligation to become a passion of mine and it is essential to who I am. Regardless of what the future holds, I would love to continue to help those around me and make an impact on the surrounding community wherever that community may be. After seeing the lives of those in underprivileged communities, I was able to inspire my friends by telling them about my story of initial fear and anxiety and how it turned into a passion for helping others. Now I have a team of friends who attend my weekly feeding of the homeless in Baltimore.
Sierra Bausley
Tennessee State UniversityPowder Springs, GA
Resilience is a word that described my childhood. At a young age my mother was cursed with breast cancer. My life was filled will coloring books and outside play chalk. Then it made a sharp left turn, "mom, are you okay", "mom, Im right here, I promise everything will be fine", or "mom, i'll help you take a shower.". During the early age of 9 years old I would move from one house to another. Slowly watching my mother become weaker, sicker, and fragile. I was a confused child, "why am I here, I just want my Mom and Nana",but I failed to realize my family lives ten hours away. The hug I needed was 687 miles away. The love I needed was 687 miles away. The warmth I needed was 687 miles away. I felt alone, stuck, and lost. In that moment in life I learned few things that I will apply to my life forever. A prominent figure in my life is Jesus. Even though I cannot visibility touch or see Jesus, he is always there. For example, one night on the beach I broke down. I wanted to give up. I just wanted to be done. As I am pour out my heart to a never ending sea .... my phone vibrates. The first thought that came into to mind was " now is not the time" then I quickly realized my phone was on do not disturb.As I wiped my once blurry eyes the verse Isaiah 41:10 appears, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." All I could do is smile. Someone finally hears me it can be my cry for help, my happy days, or my sad days. He is here and will always be here. As I get closer to God the more I learn myself. I learned how to love within my community, sisterhood, and myself. I finally became happy and full. I learned morals I want to life by.For example, I must be understanding and nonjudgmental. This ultimately helped me encourage myself to become a supporting "big sister" to the younger generation. This pass summer I have been a camp counselor. I learned how to communicate with every child. I taught them how to express their feelings in way that will benefit them and their peers around them. By me not letting life’s s boulders knock me down I was able to listen and put a positive dent in the children around me. Even more so, once I told my friends my story that I was once ashamed of , it altered the way they viewed life. They started to see life has its up and downs but how we respond, is what is important. For instance, My friend was going through a tough time therefore she stopped eating and stayed to herself. Once she found out my story the horrid mental space I was in, she started to confide in me. After a few conversations she learned we must find the things that fill us so we can enjoy the limited time we have on earth. Now we are applying to college and spreading love with everyone that crosses our path. So resilience is something that motivates me to continue. The light at the end of the tunnel and the reason why I am turning pressure i'm facing into - beautiful diamonds.
emaria banks
Albany State UniversityLoganville, GA


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Feb 28, 2025. Winners will be announced on Mar 28, 2025.