Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Scholarship for an African Princess

April accepts her scholarship>

"Oh My God!!!! ... I have had a rough weekend, and to hear news like this is overwhelming. Me and the kids have had to stay in a hotel because our oil ran out and our pipe had frozen and burst, spilling water all over the kitchen, down into the basement. Yet still, I knew I had to scrounge up money from somewhere, but I took what I had and gave it to a good cause, because I knew this someone needed it. Only to get a message from Celia to check my e-mail, which I have not done in a while.

"... I don't have the words to say how I feel, but my tears say it all."

April Drummond is the winner of the scholarship we're giving from the money we've taken in for this weekend's Roanoke Regional Writers Conference. She and her older girls will be at the reception Friday evening to be introduced to a group of writers who will have considerable appreciation for April's struggles.

She's a a tall, thin, sharp-featured, African princess-looking, single mother of seven, a widow who has known little but struggle. Still, her dream has been to be in theater, preferably as a writer. She acts and sings, too. She has written plays for her church for years. She sings locally. About two years ago, I judged a playwriting contest that April won. Her work was rough, but powerful, obviously written by a woman with an innate understanding of people and a manner of expression that is fresh, alive and strong.

I discovered her circumstances and found that she had no computer. She was working on public library equipment, so I asked around and found a used computer and printer for her. Then we went over to Hollins and talked to Celia McCormick, head of the Horizon program (older students going back to school in programs tailored for them) and Celia found April a scholarship.

From the minute she arrived on campus, April made a mark. She has consistently been on the dean's list and she knows just about everybody in this small community. She has been in a marvelous college play ("Carolina or Change," with her two oldest daughters also taking part) and is, in my mind, the very face of the Horizon program.

April won our scholarship because she deserves it. She's a marvelous example of a woman who gets a chance and inflates it into an opportunity and the opportunity into a success. It's simply marvelous to watch the system work the way it should.

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