SWNA Scholarship Recipients, Past and Present

By Wilma Goldstein

At the 2020 SWNA Scholarship Awards Program, one of the recipients said it would be nice to have caring adults checking in with them while they are at college. Even though many may now be home, the Education and Scholarship Task Force (ESTF) organized to meet that need. Two of our members, Delmar Weathers and Rick Bardash, came up with the idea of a “Check-in-Facilitator” group to keep in touch with our current scholars during the year. Each ESTF member was assigned two scholars and asked to check in with them every month or so to make sure their funding had arrived and find out if there was anything else they needed. 

We also held a Zoom event for our scholars in January, chaired by ESTF member Audrey Hinton, inviting current and past scholars to meet with us and share their progress before returning to school. This month we are profiling Eleanor Holt, one of our 2020 scholars. 

To write this profile, I interviewed Eleanor using a questionnaire created by ESTF member Bonita White. We hope to do more of these interviews in the future and feature former scholars in a series called “Where Are They Now?”

Eleanor, a lifelong resident of Southwest, is a freshman at Clark University in Worcester, MA., which allowed dormitory living and held a combination of virtual and in-classroom courses for the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year. Eleanor has been back in DC since Thanksgiving of last year and hopes to return to Clark this month. While here, she worked part-time at the Souk Bakery on 8th Street on Capitol Hill. 

She lives in SW with her parents, two younger siblings, two family dogs and seven puppies the family is fostering during the Pandemic. Her brother is a junior in high school who is thinking about furthering his education at one of the military academies; her sister started high school this past fall.

Eleanor went to grade school at Brent Elementary School on Capitol Hill, then onto Basis Middle School – she finished her K-12 education at The School Without Walls. As a freshman, she has not yet had to declare a major, but is considering some combination of Political Science and Gender Studies. Nor has she decided what to do with her educational path but is more interested in service than in pursuing wealth. 

She is grateful to her grandmother and her mother for their influence and is an admirer of Eleanor Roosevelt. Her grandmother advised her to “always do the hard things” – advice she tries to follow when confronted with tough choices. In keeping with her interest in gender issues, she chose “Well behaved women rarely make history” as her favorite slogan.

Eleonor Holt with family pups; Courtesy of Author

While we were filling out the questionnaire, Eleanor and I continued to discover how much we have in common. We share the same faith, Judaism, and both have members of our family who emigrated from Eastern Europe (from Lithuania and Ukraine). We also love music and always had our noses in books while we were growing up. Furthermore, we believe much of what we learned before college was learned outside the classroom, engaging with teachers, and classmates.

One of Eleanor’s fondest memories is her time spent at summer camp, where she made long-lasting, deep friendships with people whom she shared an interest in social justice. She devotes a fair amount of time pursuing art and plans to learn sculpture next. She and her family have traveled extensively and when finished with college, she would like to visit Africa and South America – two places she has not yet been. Whether she eventually comes back to live in DC or not, she would like to spend some time living in Portland, Ore. Right now, though, she is looking forward to her return to Clark. 

We have all enjoyed getting to know Eleanor better and wish her well!

Since 1974, when residents of River Park Cooperative raised $1,650 to help send three of our local students to college, the Cooperative has been involved in providing scholarship assistance to our high school graduates. Following that initial effort, the scholarship program was incorporated as a Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA) task force, now known as

The Education and Scholarship Task Force (ESTF). Contributions to the scholarship fund come from individuals, organizations, and local businesses.

If you were an ESTF scholar in the years from 1974 through 2019, please send your

contact information to swnascholarship@gmail.com or mail to: SWNA/ESTF, P.O. Box 70131/WDC 20024, so we can find out “Where Are You Now?”

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