A new program is helping Alexandria Redevelopment & Housing Authority (ARHA) residents get access to college classes.
ARHA has a new partnership with the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and the Social Responsibility Group (SRG) that’s allowed a group of 15 ARHA residents to enroll in classes and start getting credits for an associate degree.
The first class is a six-week history course led by Elizabeth Clark-Lewis, a professor of history from Howard University.
Clark-Lewis said that, rather than sit in classes and lecture, she prefers to take students out to experience history.
“This group of students have been very curious and very interested in the contact with history,” Clark-Lewis said. “They’re interested in the context of history, not simply in facts and names. They understand where they’re standing is where this person stood.”
Clark-Lewis said the goal is to help the students connect with resources and opportunities around the region.
Cathy Driver, an ARHA resident and student, has a goal of opening her own business one day. She said she’s inspired by Frederick Douglass and, through the program, was able to see artifacts from Douglass’ life.
“I’m excited to learn about it all,” said Driver. “My parents came from the south when they were in 12th grade. For me and my sisters, they didn’t really know what to tell us. My mother’s side from North Carolina; my father’s side from Alabama… By taking these classes, I can tell my kids about Alexandria.”
While Driver has been researching the history of Black businesses in the region, ARHA resident and student Annette Santiago has been studying the history of Latin American immigration to the region and Alexandria in particular.
Through the program, Santiago was able to connect with a historian from Puerto Rico who helped link Santiago with other resources to use in her study. Santiago was particularly fascinated by the history of immigration to Arlandria and the formation of the Chirilagua neighborhood.
“I’m not from Alexandria and I didn’t know very much about Alexandria’s history,” Santiago said. “Now that I’m in this program, it pushed me to learn more about Alexandria… I was always wondering ‘What is Chirilagua’ and now I know.”
Driver and Santiago are both grandparents and said they were inspired by their families. Santiago said her husband is signing up for the class as well.
Beyond just learning about history, Clark-Lewis said the class helps students build a connection to their community. She particularly thanked Michael Johnson from the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities for helping to get the program together.
“Education frequently helps you develop a network for your own family and community,” said Clark-Lewis. “This wouldn’t have been possible without a connection… There is a reciprocal support network they create, not just for themselves, but for their families. This has a ripple effect, and that’s what you hope to see as a public historian. It’s not the same old boring history: it helps history come alive.”
Earlier this month, Alexandria City High School senior Abdelraman Aboud Abdelsadig received life-changing news. After submitting all his paperwork and waiting a month, Abdelsadi was awarded the competitive QuestBridge Scholarship to attend Colby College in Maine.
The scholarship is worth about $300,000, and Abdelsadig found out about the award at school on Dec. 1.
The 18-year-old was born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Sudan, and he and his mother and three siblings moved to Alexandria when he was in the first grade, where he attended Douglas MacArthur Elementary School.
“I’ve always been one to keep myself busy,” Abdelsadig told ALXnow. “I always like filling my time up with either an activity or a club or study time, but if I’m bored, like in middle school, I would just stay after school to have conversations with my teachers for like an extra hour. Or even in high school. I started joining a lot of clubs just to fill up my time.”
It was that same restlessness that turned Abdesadig onto QuestBridge. Tired of sticking around at home over the past year, he decided to get a job at Duck Donuts. It was through his coworkers that he found out about the scholarship.
Eglal Salih said she was ecstatic to get the news from her son.
“Oh my god, I was so happy,” she said. “I was so proud of him. He’s always been a good kid.”
Abdelsadig says he’ll be going in the sciences, but hasn’t made up his mind about the specifics. For the time being, he says, he is focused on human anatomy.
In his scholarship essay, he wrote about the digital divide between cultures, and how his background of living in a third world country created a thirst for knowledge.
“Basically, I gave a small insight into my history and how I was not from here, and how I didn’t always have access to large swaths of knowledge, like the internet or Google or anything like that,” he said. “When you don’t have something and you’re curious about certain topics, when those things become available to you, you can’t get enough of it. You just continuously want more and more and more. And that’s exactly how it was with anatomy, just learning in general. I was a giant sponge.”
Abdelsadig plans to first visit Colby College next summer.
Great work in the College and Career Center under Stacy Morris' leadership! Congratulations to Class of '22 Questbridge National Match Scholarship Winner Abdelraman Aboud Abdelsadig! He will be attending Colby College in Maine – this full-ride scholarship is worth over $300,000!! pic.twitter.com/vAEQFG1VHr
— Peter Balas (@PrincipalTitan) December 1, 2021
Two ARHA residents receive $6,000 college scholarships — “Two Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) residents have been awarded $6,000 scholarships for the upcoming school year, thanks to the Resident Scholarship Program from the Housing Authority Insurance (HAI) Group. This is the second consecutive year Natasha Cross has been selected for the funding… Yonael Tekleberhan, a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University majoring in Business is the second awardee.” [ARHA]
The Italian Place is opening a location in Fairfax — “We are getting closer and closer to the grand opening on July 24th of the new Mosaic District location. If you haven’t registered yet, head over to our website to do so! We hope to see you all there!” [Facebook]
Del Ray Citizens Association hosting community pizza party Thursday — Come on out and join us this Thursday July 22 from 5 – 7pm at Del Ray Pizzeria, where the DRCA will be hosting a Del Ray Citizens Association Meet & Greet Pizza Party! Hang out with your fellow Del Ray superfans and enjoy some pizza, salad, tots, fries, and special happy hour pricing. DRP has set us up in the bar space, so we can enjoy some much-needed air conditioning. For those who may feel more comfortable socializing outdoors, we’re also working to set up a ‘spillover’ table in the Lot behind the restaurant.” [DRCA]
Park and recreation center signs replaced — “The signs at Ruby Tucker Park, Fort Williams Park, and Mt. Vernon Recreation Center were replaced with City standard signs last week. The signs were replaced to update addresses or broken and missing signs. Look out for new signs coming to Shirley Tyler Unity Park and William Ramsay Recreation Center coming this fall.” [Facebook]
Today’s weather — “Sunshine and some clouds (during the day). High 92F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph… Considerable clouds early (in the evening). Some decrease in clouds late. Low 72F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New job: Package delivery driver — “UPS is accepting applications for temporary, seasonal full-time Package Delivery Drivers. This is a physical, fast-paced, outdoor position that involves continual lifting, lowering and carrying packages that typically weigh 25 – 35 lbs. and may weigh up to 70 lbs. A DOT physical exam is required. Package Delivery Drivers must have excellent customer contact and driving skills.” [Indeed]
The Scholarship Fund of Alexandria has done it again. On Saturday, the nonprofit raised more than $450,000 for college-bound Alexandria students at its annual gala, which was held virtually for the second year in a row.
The gala was held this year at Jack Taylor’s Alexandria Toyota, which also raffled off a $25,000 Toyota RAV-4 to T.C. Williams High School biology teacher Jennifer Darque. More than 400 dinners and deals were also auctioned off in the event, which was attended in-person by Mayor Justin Wilson and his wife, Alex Crawford-Batt, who received a SFA scholarship when she was a student.
“The need for scholarships in this community is great,” said SFA Director Beth Lovain. “Each year we have to turn kids away because we simply do not have the funds to help all of our students in need, especially this year with the economic fallout from COVID wreaking havoc on families that already struggle financially. But what I want to convey most is my overwhelming pride in our 2021 scholarship recipients. They are truly Generation Resilient. Through all of the adversity and through all of the challenges of COVID and 2020, they have remained poised and focused, their college dreams will not be pushed aside”
The Scholarship Fund awarded $525,000 in scholarships to 180 students from the class of 2021. Last year, SFA awarded $507,000 to 181 students, and the nonprofit has given $17 million to more than 5,000 students since its founding in 1986.
“I couldn’t be more grateful,” said T.C. senior Mikias Elias after receiving the $40,000 SFA Collis Warner Scholarship. “This scholarship brings great relief to my family knowing that college won’t be a financial struggle for us.”
Elias was recently accepted into the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech.
“This scholarship will make my education at Virginia Tech possible,” he said. “On behalf of the Class of 2021 Scholarship awardees, I’d also like to say we are all relieved to know that we have financial support, and we are so proud that you believe in us.”
Alexandria’s Bridgette Adu-Wadier has a soft spot in her heart for Black female investigative journalists.
“We need young people to be investigating, and to be curious, and to be challenging,” Adu-Wadier told ALXnow.
Adu-Wadier, who is an editor for the T.C. Williams High School newspaper Theogony, was recently named one of 1,464 students (out of 18,500 applicants) around the country to be awarded the QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship. She was also recently honored as one of the country’s up-and-coming storytellers by PBS.
A first generation daughter of Ghanaian immigrants, she’s the eldest of four kids, and, while born in New York, has spent most of her life in Alexandria. She attended John Adams Elementary School and Francis C. Hammond Middle School.
ALXnow: How did you get the scholarship? Did you write a good essay?
Adu-Wadier: I do believe I wrote a really good essay, I spent a lot of time. Just trying to make it reflect me and my personal journey and how I developed my writing and how I blossomed as a writer. I talked a lot about how I started out doing a lot of creative writing and writing short stories and how I kind of wanted to tell stories and write about things that I observed in the world and elevate the voices of my generation.
It’s a four year scholarship, which I’m really excited about. It covers tuition, it covers room and board, transportation, my textbooks and my living expenses. Questbridge is just a really comprehensive scholarship and I’m really grateful to have that, especially given that, in school, I can just focus on my degree.
ALXnow: What inspired you to be a journalist?
Adu-Wadier: It’s really been inspiring to see so many journalists challenge modern institutions throughout (the last) four years… In my view, this is kind of a reiteration of the Watergate era in many ways, especially given a lot of the 2018 impeachment trial proceedings and a lot of the journalism that was coming out about the transparency of the federal government.
I did a lot of work for my school TV media program, and I would interview students on video as well, and it was just really eye opening seeing that my generation notices a lot of things and they take on a lot of what’s going on a lot more than adults understand. The peers I’ve interviewed are just really frustrated that adults don’t get that they’re not too young to understand and have a voice on a lot of issues that are going on, and to be curious and to want to investigate. We need young people to be investigating and to be curious and to be challenging.
ALXnow: What’s it been like doing all of your reporting and schoolwork and applications from home during the pandemic?
Adu-Wadier: I’ve had story deadlines on the same day as my college applications and that was a big mess. There’s been a lot of things that have been interesting that I’ve had to adapt to, and, having a noisy house and trying to do interviews from my closet since it’s the only quiet place.
ALXnow: What kind of stories do you envision yourself telling down the road?
Adu-Wadier: I really like doing stories on education to report on. People don’t really invest that much in public education, and I have that personal experience in public education and the policies and legislation passed, as well as talking to students about their high school and college admissions experiences. A lot of those stories are really under told.
Soon, I’ll be reporting on college administrators and what they’re doing, and I’m really excited to do that. Another thing that I’m really really excited to report on is just civil rights… And just seeing how societal inequities affect different racial demographics, especially regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and how Blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately impacted by exposure to the virus. That’s really fascinating.
ALXnow: Which journalists do you admire?
Adu-Wadier: I really appreciate Gwen Ifill and Yamiche Alcindor for everything that they’re doing, and especially on the ocean how she keeps her head out, especially with everything that she went through with the Trump administration and her trying to just do her job and what happened with her. Also, Gwen Ifil,… She comes from a similar background as me in that she was starting off with local newspapers and she experienced a lot of challenges and racism, and then she went on to host Washington Week and co-anchor PBS NewsHour and work with Judy Woodruff. I really really appreciate those two.
I also really look up to Ida B. Wells in how she really challenged institutions and launched this crusade against lynching and how she very much risked her life in doing so.
Overall, I just have a really soft spot for Black female journalists in general, so those are my top three. I also really really like Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward and I try to emulate them and how rigorous and relentless they were and their investigative pieces of Watergate. And, you know, I love All The President’s Men. I read the book, and I watched the movie and I just think it’s admirable what they did and just what they took on and the risks that they were taking and challenging directly.
Photos: Beyer Attends Presidential Inauguration — “It was a thrill for Megan and me to be at the inauguration of Pres. @JoeBiden and Vice Pres. @KamalaHarris.” [Twitter]
Former Beyer Chief Of Staff To Begin Job In Biden Administration — “(Tanya) Bradsher will take on the new role as the senior director for partnerships and global engagement. Previously, she served as the National Security Agency lead for the Biden-Harris Transition Team.” [Patch]
Mayor Tweets Excitement After Biden Inauguration — “‘My whole soul is in it!’ So excited for the era of @JoeBiden & @KamalaHarris to get started. Let’s do this.” [Twitter]
Propane Cylinder Catches Fire in Old Town North — “Units operating in the 600 block of E Abington for a damaged propane cylinder that caught fire earlier this afternoon. Units from station 204 and Hazmat station 209 quickly assessed and handled the incident. No injuries reported. An AFD fire marshal conducted the investigation.” [Twitter]
Free Online Job Training Courses Available — “The SkillUp® Alexandria City & Arlington County initiative is available to help residents take charge of their futures and get back to work. Designed with input from regional employers, the initiative provides recently laid-off workers as well as those who are employed and looking to change or advance in their careers free and unlimited access to more than 5,000 high-quality, Skillsoft online training courses for 180 days; the courses, used by many Fortune 500 companies, are presented in English and Spanish. The initiative enables workers to demonstrate the kind of initiative employers are looking for by upgrading their skills during this challenging time even while most bricks-and-mortar education and training providers remain closed.” [City of Alexandria]
College Loans Available for Immigrants — “Paying for college can be expensive, especially for DACA or TPS recipients, asylum seekers or undocumented. Learn about two renewable scholarship opportunities ranging from $2,000 to $33,000 for eligible immigrant students–first deadline Feb 1.” [Twitter]
Torpedo Factory Artists’ Work To Be Recognized in International Exhibition — “Ruth Gowell and Alison Sigethy are two glass artists who have studios at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. A new museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, Imagine Museum, showcases works made of glass. The work of these two artists has been selected for the museum’s upcoming exhibition, OpART/Glass. The honor is especially significant for two reasons. First, the museum hosts only one exhibition per year. Second, it is open to glass artists from around the world.” [Zebra]
Today’s Weather — “Sun and a few passing clouds (during the day). High 53F. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph… Clear skies (in the evening). Low 33F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Team Member — “Toastique is a rapidly growing company looking for passionate new talent to help create smoothies, gourmet toast & juice while giving the customers an incredible experience the minute they walk through the door. Employees will be joining a team to attain a fun, clean, fresh environment for a gourmet toast and juice bar in the new SW waterfront area. We are focused on our unique concept that combines great taste, responsibly sourced ingredients, and a welcoming environment.” [Indeed]
Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria is planning to once again host what is says is the largest Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Festival in the country this weekend.
The event is organized by the church but held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center (201 Waterfront St.), across the Potomac in National Harbor. It is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Jan. 25 from 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
The event brings together high school students and over 70 HBCUs, according to the website, and many of the schools offer on-site admissions, interviews, and auditions with some application fees waived.
The festival “originated with humble beginnings of 150 attendees in 2003 and matured to 11,000 attendees in 2019 — making us the largest HBCU Festival in the nation,” the website says.
The festival also serves to help connect students with potential scholarship programs. To date, the organization says $20 million in scholarships have been awarded at the festival.
HBCUs scheduled to attend range from nearby institutions, like Howard University, to schools in places like Texas and Ohio.
“We offer 11 seminars packed with impactful information to prepare students and parents for a successful college tenure,” the church said on the event website, “from securing financial aid to finding your ideal career path.”
In addition to academic opportunities, planned programs include a drum line and step show.
Tickets to the festival are $5 per person or $50 for a group of 10 or more. While there are special passes for applicants, general attendees can come to enjoy seminars and talk to school recruiters.
Image via Alfred Street Baptist Church/Facebook