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The Williamsburg chapter of Soroptimist, a national organization dedicated to empowering girls and women in educational and professional pursuits, recently awarded Warhill graduating senior Keyanna Bartlett with its annual scholarship.
Bartlett, who plans to attend Old Dominion University in the fall, was awarded $2,500 to help her pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.
Soroptimist has two annual fundraisers, a fashion show and a pancake dinner, from which it earns the majority of the money for the scholarship.
Incoming president Willie Mae McCracken said the group raised more money this year than they had previously, allowing for an additional scholarship to last year’s winner, who currently attends the College of William & Mary.
The Soroptimist scholarship is open to female graduating students at Lafayette, Jamestown, Warhill and Bruton high schools. A student’s financial need is the main criteria considered by the selection committee.
Applicants are also asked to provide a short written statement about why they need the scholarship and how they hope to use it, which is how McCracken became aware Bartlett hopes to become a nurse.
“I know that students change their majors and their interests often when they get to school, but I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t stick with it. She seems to have a good idea of what it’s all about,” McCracken said.
Bartlett is drawn to nursing because she has had personal experience dealing with illness in her family, which inspired her to look into healthcare as a career option, McCracken said.
In the eight years since the Williamsburg chapter of Soroptimist converted its education loan program into a scholarship program, the funds available have consistently increased.
Despite the significant amount of money to distribute, the members of Soroptimist were disappointed more students did not apply for the scholarship this past year. McCracken estimated between the four high schools, about 15 to 20 applications were received.
“We joke that we are Williamsburg’s best-kept secret, but we don’t want to be,” McCracken said. “We think this is a pretty considerable amount for a scholarship and we’d love to see more students applying in the future.”