Social Justice and Perseverance Scholarships Awarded
Posted on March 24, 2023 by Lance Crawford
Two University of South Alabama students, Anhelina Lukovenko and Kenya Valrie, have been named recipients of the Leadership in Social Justice and Perseverance Scholarship. It is awarded annually to students who demonstrate leadership qualities as well as a commitment to social justice and perseverance characteristics.
The summer before her senior year at Carroll High School in Ozark, Alabama, Valrie’s mother died suddenly. A few months later, her godfather also passed.
“My mother was my biggest supporter. Since I was a baby, she always pushed me to be the best I could be,” Valrie said. “She was my best friend and my number one fan.”
Leaving home after that was difficult, Valrie said, but her mother’s memory kept Valrie focused on the finish line.
“The scholarship lifted a huge weight off of me,” she said. “When I received the email saying that I had won, I just cried and thanked God. I am extremely thankful to the committee for helping me keep my mother’s dream alive.”
Lukovenko immigrated from Ukraine to Theodore, Alabama with her mother and sister when she was 10 years old. The rest of her family remained behind.
After graduating from high school, Lukovenko attended community college. Neither she nor her mother were familiar with the process of applying for financial aid, so she worked three jobs at a mall to help pay for her education.
“A lot of times,” Lukovenko said, “I would just change uniforms and go straight from one shift to the next.”
Sleep was as hard to find as money, as Lukovenko often attended night classes in Fairhope with late-night drives across Mobile Bay.
After enrolling at South, she soon found out that she was eligible for various grants and loans allowing her to reduce her workload and focus on her education.
“It was such a relief. I went from working more than 40 hours per week to around 20 hours per week,” she said. “It also allowed me to take more courses and get my degree quicker.”
Lukovenko's scholarship award is $1,500. She has already has received her bachelor’s degree in professional health sciences and plans to graduate with a nursing degree this December. A stint as an emergency medical technician convinced her to pursue a career in healthcare.
“I got to see nurses work when I was an EMT, and I really admired that culture,” Lukovenko said. “I also wanted to push myself and learn a new skill outside of my comfort zone.”
The 100 Black Men of Greater Mobile, in partnership with the University, established the Leadership in Social Justice and Perseverance Scholarship in 2020 with an initial gift of $10,000 to honor those who have fallen to systems of oppression and injustice.
The award is in addition to the 100 Black Men USA Scholars of Perseverance and Social Justice, which is a full-tuition scholarship for an incoming freshman.
To date, the University has raised more than $168,000 for the scholarships with donations from Alabama Power Foundation, Hancock Whitney Bank, AT&T Foundation, University administrative leaders and many individuals. The Mitchell-Moulton Scholarship Initiative, which matches donations dollar for dollar, brings that total to over $337,000.
Donations to support this initiative can be made online, or contact the Office of Development at 251-460-7032.
To apply for this scholarship, log on to JagSPOT using your J-number and JagMail password.