LHWL President Melissa Hood (left) and Home Tour Chair Debbie Alspaw (right) congratulate scholarship recipients Jordyn Moye and Michael Anowey

Just after she reported to first period at Lake Highlands High School Wednesday, Shamyra Thompson was pulled out of class by members of Lake Highlands Women’s League who told hers she’d earned a college scholarship. Before she could make it down the hall to the auditorium foyer, she’d called her mom to share the proud news.

“I just couldn’t wait,” said Thompson, who wants to study communications at the University of Central Arkansas. “I was so excited. She just kept saying, ‘thank you, Lord.’”

Tate Martin admits winning a scholarship wasn’t the first thing that popped into his head.

“When they called my name, I was thinking it was for an AP [advanced placement] test. I was thinking I had messed up my sign up, but a lady was standing there with a clip board, checking names off. I asked her, ‘what’s this all about?’ She grinned and said, ‘you’ll find out.’”

You can read Advocate’s annual May cover story here, featuring several of the winners who have overcome great obstacles to reach their goals and make their families and LH proud, and you may see my photos here.

Melanie Amboh, the first in her family to go to college, came to Dallas from Cameroon 3 years ago with her family. She admits she misses those left behind, but she wore a bright smile as she told me about dreams of TWU.

“I’m glad I’m here because now I can go to college and do something better for my life. I want to major in nursing so that I can give back to people in America who have helped me. I can’t wait to be independent and see what I can do on my own.”

Maybellin Benitez, also planning to study nursing at TWU, will be the first in her family to graduate from high school.

“My parents faced many obstacles when they were younger, so they didn’t have the same opportunities. It feels good knowing my 3 younger siblings can look up to me. I can set the example. As long as you set your mind to it, you can achieve anything you wish for.”

I asked Nicole Madawo, planning to study law and social work at Texas Tech, if she knew the source of the scholarship funds she was receiving.

“Well, first from God, but also from generous people. I have a church member who is close to my family, Jackie Counts, who is a member of Women’s League, and she is the first person who let me know about this scholarship, and I’ve been keeping my eye out for it for months. I know it takes a lot of generosity on the part of these women and their donors and the community in general, and I’m thankful for it.”

Scholarships funds are raised by the League’s annual Holiday in the Highlands home tour, held on the first Friday of December. This year, 32 students will receive scholarships worth $90,000.

“We are so proud of you,” said LHWL Scholarship Chairmen Susan Smith. “We’re excited to give you money today. When when we interviewed each of you last month, we saw in each of you a passion that would lift you skyward. We want to come alongside you and join in that journey.”

Though their stories were different, the students shared one message: gratitude.

“This money will be such a relief for me and my parents,” said Martin. “Thank you so much, Lake Highlands Women’s League, this is a blessing and an honor.”

Congratulations, all: Brian Akins, John Allen IV, Melanie Amboh, Michael Anowey, Faith Ayeni, Maybelin Benitez, Chloe Bidne, Doan (Anna) Bui, Devany Estrada, Samantha Fowler, Gabriyn (Gabe) Gettens, Blen Hussain, Monica Lira, Nicole Madawo, Robert Mahurin, Tate Martin, Karen Mendoza, Jordyn Moye, Ladi Par, Giselle Pina, Kayla Ramsay, Chellsie Rangel, Natalie Regan, Sefanit Rezene, Maldini Sakah, Dylan Siegers, Riley Smith, Taylor Smith, Melinda Thompson, Shamyra Thompson, Shannon Williams and Chris Wogbeh.

Shamyra Thompson, Anna Bui, Nicole Madawo and Tate Martin