By Una Yarsky, former SWNA Scholar 

This year, the Southwest Neighborhood Association (SWNA) congratulates five college graduates who received the SWNA scholarship award. This scholarship encourages Southwest students to reach their fullest potential during their time at university and will award scholarships throughout their years of study. The graduates for the 2022 school year are: Dainnelle Rayne Crutchfield, Ellen Guo, Grace Mitchell-Jenkins, Nicholas Moses, and Samantha O’ Sullivan. Next year we will celebrate the 50th birthday of SWNA’s Education & Scholarship Task Force (ESTF) and will aim to find and invite as many of the 239 total awardees as possible to be there as we celebrate the Class of 2023 and the 50th anniversary.                       

Samantha O’Sullivan appeared in the April edition of The Southwester celebrating her accomplishments as a Rhodes Scholar. 

Dannielle Crutchfield graduated from University of Maryland Eastern Shore with a Bachelor’s of Science in agriculture. She hopes to continue on to veterinary school and is currently working as a veterinary tech to diversify her experiences with veterinary medicine and animals. On campus, she was involved in several clubs, including the Pre-Veterinary Club and has also mentored students on the transition from high school to higher education. In 2021, she participated in Purdue University’s Vet Up! College program, where she was able to develop her passion for veterinary medicine and connect with other students who have similar goals. Her best piece of advice is to remember that “You have your own individual journey. Your timing belongs to you and no one else.” She also wants to encourage students currently in college to “make an effort to enjoy or celebrate even the simplest things.” Dannielle hopes to be a source of support for younger generations seeking higher education. She feels that the experiences she has had in her community have shaped her strengths and ambitions and she wishes to have an impact on younger people with a similar upbringing. 

Ellen Guo graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in computer engineering with a focus on machine learning and minors in art history and cybersecurity. At Virginia Tech, she has done community service with her Living Learning Community, or LLC, partnering with a middle school to “conduct STEM activities and lessons with their students” in order to develop students’ interests in science. One of her most memorable experiences at school was working with a defense contracting company called ManTech, where she was introduced to new areas of computing and how these areas are applied to different fields. Growing up, Ellen was inspired to help protect this country from “ransomware attacks, hackings, [and] system compromises” after hearing countless news stories about the dangers of these types of attacks. Her biggest piece of advice for students is to attend office hours, even if they seem intimidating, as they are a significant resource and helped her become a better student. Additionally, Ellen encourages students to take advantage of every resource and opportunity offered to them, even if they appear intimidating or overwhelming. Ellen hopes to continue seeking out opportunities for community service and to share her experiences with underrepresented youth who have an interest in STEM fields. 

Grace Mitchell-Jenkins graduated from  Lackawanna College with a degree in baking and pastry. Her goal is to work in the food truck industry as a “bakery on wheels” where she can travel to a variety of events and celebrations. She currently works as a bakery assistant in DC and wants to expand her own business, AmazingGraceCupcakery, which she launched in 2020. One of her biggest challenges during college was trying to earn a degree during the pandemic. She continued to push herself at school while also trying to stay safe and healthy. However, her determination helped her graduate on time and receive her degree despite the difficult situation. Grace states that the biggest lesson she learned during her time at Lackawanna College was that she did not have to rely solely on herself in order to succeed. She learned to connect with students who had similar goals and they helped each other to “reach the finish line.” Grace encourages younger students entering college to try to connect with like minded people in order to thrive during their time at school. 

Nicholas Moses graduated from Colorado Technical University with a degree in psychology. He hopes to continue on in the education field by starting his elementary education K-6 Master’s degree at American University this fall. Nicholas hopes to become a special education teacher for 6th grade math. Nicholas’ experiences during his first year in the classroom helped him fully realize his passion for teaching and he has completed a variety of education-based community service projects at university. One of Nicholas’ biggest challenges during his time at Colorado Tech was teaching virtually during the pandemic while simultaneously attending school. He struggled having to work on a computer screen for the majority of the day, but managed to overcome these difficulties by cutting out screen time whenever possible and taking breaks. Nicholas’ biggest piece of advice for college students is to remember that “it’s not always about how you start but how you finish.”

Each of these graduates would like to thank SWNA and the greater Southwest community for offering support and encouragement during their time at school.

Graduating and succeeding in university is not an easy accomplishment, and SWNA celebrates each and every one of these students as they managed to complete university during a difficult time in this country’s history. SWNA is currently accepting donations to help other students complete their college careers and thrive both during and after their education. 

To support future SWNA graduates, you can make a tax-deductible donation by check to the SWNA scholarship fund on 4th St SW 110, Washington, DC 2002. Please put “scholarship” in the subject line.

Are you a Southwest resident pursuing a college education? The SWNA scholarship is accepting applications until June 30th 2022. Apply online at https://swnascholarship.org 

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