11th Annual Loudoun County Beat the Odds Scholarship Awards Ceremony!
Keynote address by Mr. Kim Harrington
During your childhood, your alcoholic father hits you and your mother, screaming and yelling at you, night after night. A family member sneaks into your room at night and sexually abuses you - over and over again. You lose your home and move from place to place. Your parent has chronic mental illness and you must become the caretaker. You work a full time job in addition to going to school to help support your family. Your parents die and you suddenly move to a new country with only a suitcase. Your family members never finished high school - you are trying to be the first. If one of these was your story - would you succeed?
We know some amazing young Loudoun County students who faced situations such as these - and found a way to rise above.
On May 21, 2015, the Loudoun Chapter of the Beat the Odds® held
the 11th annual Loudoun County Beat the Odds® Scholarship Awards Ceremony at the Old Courthouse in downtown Leesburg. Six local youth were awarded scholarship money totaling $22,000.00 (our largest amount of scholarships in a year to date!) to assist them reaching their college education goals - and new this year the top 2 winners were also awarded laptop computers for college!
All six students are graduating seniors of Loudoun high schools.
The ceremony opened with an introduction by Judge Pamela Brooks, of the Loudoun Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, who provided the audience with background on the Beat the Odds program in Loudoun. She introduced the key note speaker for the event, Mr. Kim Harrington, a Loudoun County resident. Mr. Harrington spoke to the students about the lessons he learned in overcoming his own life adversities - to include being born in New York City to parents battling heroin addiction and incarceration, being removed from the home as a child and becoming a ward of the state, being raised through five different foster home and three different groups homes - and yet finding the drive and perseverance with the support of teachers and other adult role models to beat the odds and build a succesful life. His story and his message were truly inspiring.
Nominators for several of the students were given the opportunity to introduce each awardee and speak to the audience about the unique qualities of the student. Each student was then asked to share part of their own story of what they have overcome. Their personal stories were heartfelt and powerful. Those in attendance this year heard the students describe their inspiring battles to overcome hardships such as domestic violence, sexual and emotional abuse, depression, extreme poverty, death of parents, homelessness, mental illness, while also maintaining strong academics and contributing to their families or local community.
- 2015 "Beat the Odds" Award Winner:
Megan Hite, Woodgrove High School (plans to attend George Mason University) - $10,000 scholarship + computer
- 2015 Special Merit Award Winner:
Sabrina Chira, Freedom High School (plans to attend Christopher Newport Univ.) - $5,000 scholarship + computer
- 2015 Merit Award Winners:
Mihaela Suciu, Tuscarora High School (plans to attend UC San Diego) - $2,500 scholarship
Sindy Gonzalez-Baires, Park View High School (plans to attend NOVA and George Mason University) - $2,500 scholarship
- 2015 Honorable Mention Awards:
Miriam Peacock, Heritage High School (plans to attend West Virginia Univ.) - $1,000 scholarship
Alizah Robinson, Woodgrove High School (plans to attend Virginia Tech) - $1,000 scholarship
- Article about the 2015 Awards:
"Loudoun At-Risk Students Emerge from Hardship,'" Loudoun Times Mirror, May 26, 2015
Below are links to news articles about our past Loudoun Beat the Odds Scholarship Award Nights!
(Please also visit our "NEWS" page which includes additional articles and profiles on past Loudoun BTO scholarship winners!)
- "Students Recognized for Overcoming Challenges," Leesburg Today, May 29, 2009
- "Beat the Odds," Loudoun Independent, June 3, 2009
- "Purcellville Graduate Overcomes Adversity," Loudoun Times-Mirror, June 25, 2009
- VIDEO: NBC 4 news story: "Men on a Mission Program Helps Dominion High Student Beat the Odds," NBCWashington.com, June 2009
- VIDEO: NBC 4 news story: "Father's Death Fuels Dominion Senior's Desire to Achieve," NBCWashington.com, June 2009