Through the Education and Scholarship Task Force (ESTF), the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA) has provided scholarships to more than 200 deserving students for the past 43 years. Scholarships were awarded to 21 students this year and two of them graduated from their respective universities with honors in May. The overwhelming support from the community made these scholarships possible.

Asha Marshall

On May 5, Asha Marshall was all smiles as she graduated from Radford University in Virginia with a degree in criminal justice and a minor in psychology. She owes part of her success to the SWNA ESTF, which awarded her a college scholarship for 3.5 years of her matriculation at Radford. Marshall is also grateful for her scholarship in 2016 through Friends of Southwest DC (FOS), which has been a long-time staunch supporter of the SWNA ESTF.

Marshall was never one to rest on her laurels and early on learned the importance of paying it forward. She was on the Dean’s List with a GPA of 3.8 of a possible 4.0, served as a dorm resident assistant, became an active member in service organizations, and mentored first-generation college students to help ensure their success. Being recognized for her studious habits, she was nominated for the Criminal Justice Department Dean’s Scholar Award and is an active member of Alpha Phi Sigma through the National Criminal Justice Honor Society.

“These great accomplishments would not have existed without the financial assistance and vote of confidence from the SWNA ESTF and FOS. I was able to purchase my schoolbooks in a timely manner, allowing me to increase my studies and remain a step ahead. Thank you,” said Marshall while reflecting on the experience.

Although Marshall reluctantly took a semester off in 2015, she remained steadfast and determined to graduate in May 2018. To achieve this goal, she took 18 credit hours each semester. In addition, she interned at Bland Correctional Center in Virginia three times a week, where she taught inmates skills that will help enable inmates to adjust after their incarceration. Using her avocation to help identify a vocation, Marshall is seeking a position in DC that will allow her to assist offenders and former offenders regain their lives in society.

“My knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process will enable me to help others make a difference in their lives and be more welcoming to the community-at-large. While my professional career goal is to become a mortician, I would like to work as a probation officer while attending the University of the District of Columbia to pursue my mortuary science license,” Marshall said.

Marshall is honored to have been selected for the scholarships provided by the SWNA ESTF and FOS. She expressed special thanks and gratitude for the community support she received from Rick Bardach, Vyllorya Evans, and Rhonda Hamilton, who not only helped make her college experience pleasant and meaningful, but also inspired her actions to help others who are struggling in life and just need a helping hand.

Marshall was an accomplished student at KIPP DC College Preparatory earning a 4.0 GPA, which helped prepare her for a successful experience at Radford.

Caitlin Whitter

Caitlin Whitter graduated from The George Washington University (GWU) with a B.S. in computer science on May 20. Going full speed ahead, Whitter will continue her education this fall in a Ph.D. program at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, where she will perform research in scientific computing, a sub-discipline of computer science.

At GWU, Whitter was a member of the University Honors Program and the Clark Engineering Scholarship Program. She was also co-president of GW Women in Computer Science and a mentor to freshmen in the School of Engineering and Applied Science Student Peer Advisory Network. Additionally, Whitter was an undergraduate researcher and teaching assistant for the Department of Computer Science. Both assignments have enabled her to hone her skills and gain greater knowledge and experience while she prepares for the real world of work.

Whitter has held summer internships at the Naval Medical Research Center, U.S Naval Research Laboratory, GWU, and Qualcomm Inc. Prior to enrolling in the doctorate program, she will serve as a research intern at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory in Boston.

Whitter is grateful to the SWNA ESTF for her scholarship and the encouragement that it provided to her and hundreds of other SW students. She would like to thank SWNA ESTF for providing this well-needed scholarship program. Whitter’s family has lived in Southwest for 40 years, and she hopes to give back to the community by showing others the benefits of a computer science education. She is particularly interested in helping minority youth consider science, technology, engineering, and math programs in school and as part of their future.

Visit for more information about the SWNA Scholarship Program or to make a contribution.

By: Delmar Weathers

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