Tuskegee Airmen scholarships offer life lessons along with money

Tuskegee Airmen scholarships offer life lessons along with money
Five students received scholarships from the Lawrence E. Roberts Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. From left: Lauren Petry, Kansas Carter, Nga Truong, Imari Smith and DaiJai Mitchell.

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Five Coast students received $9,000 in college scholarships from the Lawrence E. Roberts chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.

It was a gift that the chapter believes is a good investment in keeping the group's mission alive and well. There's no doubt this money is appreciated.

"It's going to give me $3,000," said the top scholarship winner, Nga Truong of Pass Christian. "It's going to help me so much to my goals of becoming a doctor. So proud of winning this, I'm so glad."

DaiJai Mitchell of St. Martin took the second largest scholarship at $2,000.

"I was like that's going to make going to college a so much easier," she said. "I have money to help me out now."

The winners, families and members of the chapter gathered at Half Shell Oyster House in Biloxi for the awards ceremony.

Jmarie Smith of St. Martin received $1,000. Kansas Carter of Ocean Springs and Lauren Petry of Biloxi both received $1,500 as the Lonely Eagle National Award Winners.

This was the 13th annual scholarship awards luncheon by the chapter.

"I know these scholarships will not provide the full ride of an education, but we just want to be a brick in the road helping that child get down that road to a successful future," said chapter president Kirk Jackson.

But dollars aren't everything. The message behind the money is what will last long after the cash is gone.

"There were a lot of good examples that our children today can use and use in their life to go forward," Jackson said. "All the Tuskegee Airmen were great scholars. They were smart, and we want to pass those qualities and those lessons on to the students here and help them in any way we can."

They are lessons that apply today.

"It brought hope for everyone," DaiJai said about the Tuskegee Airmen's experience. "In a way, it said no matter who you were or what color your skin was, that you were able to achieve and do whatever you chose to do."

Nga also has a firm grasp on the history's importance.

"Because they got through racial prejudices, and they did something that no one else could do. I feel like there's nothing stopping me - not my color, not my gender, anything like that. I can be anything I want to be."

To date, the Lawrence E. Roberts Chapter has given out $70,000 in scholarships.

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