Wade Wins $20,000 Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship


Alice Hanson, Reporter

Senior Alversia Wade received a big surprise in English two weeks ago – a $20,000 surprise from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship committee.

In order to apply for the scholarship she had to fill out application. It asked her about her extracurricular activities, volunteer service, job experience, awards or honors, and my first choice college and major.

“I also had to write an essay responding to MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. They chose finalists from the initial applicant pool to give interviews and then chose six recipients from them,” saidWade.

Alversia was a little nervous when submitting her application, “I knew I had a good shot but I wasn’t positive I would receive the scholarship. I felt like my application was lacking. I didn’t have any job experience and I thought that would seriously hurt my chances. I wasn’t too happy with my interview either,” Wade said, “But I guess they saw some potential”.

The scholarship entails that Wade will receive $5,000 every year she is in college for the first four years as long as she maintains a certain GPA. Wade also stated that she has to give an acceptance speech at the awards dinner on October 15th, so she has rehearsal for that every weekend. She also has to participate in the Dr. King Ecumenical Service at St. James Episcopal Church in January.

Wade received the award during her English class with Mrs. Morgan and all her classmates around her.

“There were so many clues and still I had no idea. I saw the president of the scholarship committee when I was walking out of English class and I waved. Then, I knew the cameraman because he goes to my church, but I didn’t remember he was also the audio visual technician for the MLK Trust Fund. I waved to him too. I was thinking maybe they are recording Mrs. Chen’s guidance lesson for the news on the applications of Naviance. I was utterly clueless. It was surprising! They normally don’t do it out in public like that. I have been to past award dinners and they normally always call the recipients down to the principal’s office. I have never seen them announce it during a class,” said Wade.

Wade, senior captain of the cheerleading team, in action during a football game last season.
Wade, senior captain of the cheerleading team, in action during a football game last season.

When the scholarship president made his introduction, he said there was a “special student” in the classroom. Wade said she “was shocked. By then I had put everything together. My mouth was literally hanging open. I couldn’t believe it. I was talking to myself like no way, but then I was like why else would they be here? I couldn’t believe it. There are so many other deserving applicants. It is such tough competition. It was also very emotional knowing that someone notices all the hard work you have been doing and thinks that it’s worthy of recognition”.

Wade is humbled by the honor: “This committee sees me as a continuation of MLK’s dream and life work. He did so much that all my accomplishments pale in comparison. For others to see some of him in me is just beyond words”.

Wade’s family  “They are all very happy and proud. Some were shocked because they didn’t know I had applied for the scholarship”.

Wade has big plans for her scholarship money. She said, “I have wanted to go to Spelman [College in Atlanta] since I was in elementary school. I really am looking forward to a change in environment and being able to connect to some of the famous sites of the Civil Rights Movement. I also have an aunt and cousins who live there that I would like to spend more time with”.

Other colleges Wade will also be applying to Emory University, University of California – Los Angeles, Rutgers, Purdue University, and University of Connecticut.

Like most seniors,  Wade is excited, but nervous about college because she will be away from home and her family, with whom she really close. She agreed that it will be a learning experience that she will help her grow.

Wade wants to major in biology on the pre-med track, and wants to be a pediatrician. In five years, she said she sees herself starting medical school and interning in a biology research lab . In ten years, Wade said that she “will be in the middle of residency about to earn my medical license.”