Girls Inc. of Chattanooga member Hadessah O'Neal has been selected as a 2018 scholarship winner in the Girls Inc. National Scholar Program. A senior at Ooltewah High School, she is among 13 young women around the nation to be awarded a $20,000 college scholarship and is the most recent of five Girls Inc. National Scholars to come out of Girls Inc. of Chattanooga in the last four years. Others include Jasmine Pulliam, now at University of Tennessee in Knoxville and Diamond Jones, University of Memphis, both $20,000 winners, Terri Wright, now attending Spelman College and Alexis Eaton, now at Wofford College, were $5,000 winners and Sakinah Rashid was one of ten middle school scholars nationwide awarded $500 last year.
In addition, Ms. O'Neal has been early admitted to the University of Chicago as a recipient of the QuestBridge Scholarship. QuestBridge's College Match Scholarship recipients are granted admission to one of QuestBridge's partner colleges with a full, four-year scholarship worth over $200,000.The scholarship is offered as part of a generous financial aid package provided by the QuestBridge college partner that covers the cost of attendance, including:
• Tuition and fees
• Room and board
• Books and supplies
• Travel expenses
The Girls Inc. National Scholars Program selects outstanding young women for exemplifying the Girls Inc. mission of inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold. Recipients are role models for other girls who demonstrate a commitment to achieving academically and serving their communities. Ms. O'Neal was also chosen last year to be one of nine chosen nationally to serve as a member of the Girls Action Network. The Girls Action Network has collaborated with the new Girls Inc. Policy Advisory Group to advise the national Girls Inc. Public Policy team on the development and advancement of the Girls Inc. policy agenda, assist with advocacy, outreach and public education efforts to implement that agenda.
"Every year that I have worked with the teens in the National Scholarship program, I've been nothing short of amazed" said Jaleesa Brumfield, Girls Inc. Teen Program coordinator, who works closely with the girls on their applications. "The girls work so hard to win these very competitive scholarships and Dessah's essay on the season of her life tugged at the heart strings of the scholarship panel. I can't find the right words to express how proud I am of her resilience; she is so deserving of this scholarship! Dessah's ultimate goal in life is to become an attorney and I'm confident that this won't be the last time we hear her name."
Ms. O'Neal said of her selections "I'm so grateful for everything that Girls Inc. has given me over the years. Girls Inc. is so much more than just a scholarship or an after-school activity, it's the place where I learned how to embrace the person that I am, the place where I have been supported by so many amazing people who have taught me so many amazing lessons. I wouldn't be the person that I am without the influence of Girls Inc."
"I've had so many strong female mentors over the years that have inspired me to be more outgoing, more loving, more hardworking. All of this is thanks to Girls Inc. Of course, I am grateful for the scholarship, but even more so than that, I am grateful for the experiences that Girls Inc. has given me."
This year, Girls Inc. awarded 19 high school girls with scholarships for educational expenses at any accredited college or university, from a competitive pool of national applicants. Of the 19 recipients, Ms. O'Neal is one of 1 of 13 to receive the $20,000 award.
The Girls Inc. Lucile Miller Wright Scholarship program was created in 1992, when the female pilot and long-time supporter gave a bequest for scholarships for young women. Since 1993, more than $5.9 million in scholarships have made post-secondary education more accessible to over 781 high school women and has inspired them to succeed in school and consider a broad range of career possibilities.