Last night, ALKU celebrated our 7th ALKU Scholarship recipient, Naesoj Ware, in partnership with Mass Mentoring Partnership (MMP). This year’s event, Cheers for Champions, took place virtually and combined the annual Cheers for Mentoring and Breakfast of Champions events into one where the ALKU Scholarship, Kelly Award, and the Connolly Tribute Fund were presented.
The ALKU Scholarship is a $30,000 award, payable over four years, to a rising high school senior who plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution. The recipient must have benefitted from a positive mentoring experience with an adult, be involved in their community, have shown leadership in school and outside activities, and demonstrate financial need.
The event included a variety of speakers from the Eldridge family, ALKU’s Scholarship Committee, Naesoj’s mentor, previous ALKU Scholarship recipients, and Naesoj herself! It was a moving presentation full of celebration, community, and looking forward to the future.
Mark Eldridge, ALKU’s CEO, alongside Kathie Boles, Vice President of Finance and Strategy, and Maddie Eldridge, Marketing Manager, introduced the ALKU Scholarship and the importance of ALKU’s relationship with MMP. Maddie Eldridge, also a member of the ALKU Scholarship Committee, presented the scholarship to Naesoj Ware, the 2021 recipient! Maddie shared more on Naesoj’s upbeat attitude in the eyes of adversity, and her willingness and desire to succeed, stating that Naesoj is everything ALKU looks for in a scholarship recipient.
Ware, who lives in a single-parent household, has faced many obstacles to get to where she is today. “I have struggled to get equal academic and employment opportunities. The demographics of my community are mentally, emotionally, and physically limiting. I live in a predominantly black neighborhood, where gang violence and financial instability are prevalent,” Ware wrote. Despite her difficult situation, Ware used her struggles as motivation to push herself academically, as well as civically. She continuously maintains two to three jobs and extracurriculars alongside her schooling and community engagement. Her experiences with The Center of Teen Empowerment, Madison Park Development Corporation, and the Boston Student Advisory Council developed into passions, inspiring her to make social and economic change in her community.
This drive to invoke change has been with Ware since a young age. At 11 years old, Ware started a charity in her elementary school advocating for student voices with the support and guidance from mentors. This set the groundwork for Ware to start G.I.R.L.S (Girls in Real Life Sanctuary) at the end of the 2020-2021 school year. This program is meant to cultivate the minds of girls aged 12 to 16 and show them the limitless possibilities in life and is inspired by Ware’s own experiences of being a young black woman in Boston, MA.
Naesoj herself took the “virtual stage” and shared her excitement and appreciation for the ALKU Scholarship, as well as more about her story and her aspirations. Naesoj reflected on the importance of mentoring and how she was inspired by her mentor to follow her dreams of becoming a lawyer. Naesoj and her mentor have both grown from one another and it’s truly inspiring to see the impact of a mentoring relationship.
The ALKU Scholarship presentation included messages from the ALKU Scholarship Committee welcoming Naesoj to the ALKU family, as well as a few words of encouragement and advice from previous ALKU Scholarship recipients. The 2020 ALKU Scholarship recipient, Nellcie Bodden, offered advice on going after your passion when it comes to choosing a major. The 2016 ALKU Scholarship recipient, Marta Pleitez-Hercules, offered her support for Naesoj should she need anything to reach out to her.
We are humbled by Naesoj’s story and happy to be able to play a part in her future. From everyone at ALKU, congratulations, Naesoj! We cannot wait to see all you will achieve!
To learn more about Naesoj Ware, click here: https://bit.ly/2YnihQg
To learn more about MMP, click here: http://www.massmentors.org/