April 6, 2007 LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Alltel Wireless, America's largest network, and world-renowned poet Dr. Maya Angelou today announced the nine winners of the second annual "Words of Wisdom: Lessons in Courage" essay contest during a reception at the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock. Each winner received a $5,000 scholarship to the participating Historically Black College and University (HBCU) of their choice.
The nine winners were selected by educators, business leaders and Alltel Wireless employees based on their responses to the essay question, "Fifty years ago, the Little Rock Nine personified courage and spirit. Today, how will you?" A tenth $5,000 scholarship was awarded to the Little Rock Nine Foundation in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the landmark integration event.
Scholarship winners are: Patrick Bynum, Tuskegee University; Ashley Drakes, Jackson State University; Courtney Gates, Paine College; Leroy Lucas, Mississippi Valley State University; Shayla Roberts, Fayetteville State University; LaKenya Simpson, Southern University A&M College; Kendra Smith, Hampton University; Rosie Toliver, Norfolk State University; and Alaina Wood, Grambling State University.
"Alltel Wireless is committed to celebrating the academic accomplishments of students within the African-American community through our 'Words of Wisdom: Lessons in Courage' essay contest," said Regina Woziwodzki, director of multicultural marketing for Alltel. "We are pleased to again partner with Dr. Angelou in awarding scholarships to nine deserving students in recognition of the commitment to furthering their education."
"A half century ago, the Little Rock Nine broke down barriers to better their education. The 'Words of Wisdom' program encourages young people to learn from the hardships of those students and use their courage to create change in their own lives," said Dr. Angelou. "I am proud to be a part of this program and to have come in contact with such an inspired group of young people."
During their visit to Little Rock, the students toured several local landmarks essential to the Little Rock Nine integration movement, including Little Rock Central High School and the Governor's Mansion. Reception attendees also enjoyed a performance by the Little Rock Central High Madrigals and a guided tour of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center.