As many young black high school students prepare to trek off to various colleges and universities this fall, Xi Sigma Omega, a graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., is gearing up to award more than $17,000 in scholarships during a ceremony this weekend.
The event, scheduled for Saturday at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, will award 15 young black scholars, undergraduate funding as a part of the organization’s annual fashion show and luncheon.
Based on the merits of items including SAT scores, academic transcripts and extracurricular activities, Xi Sigma Omega’s scholarship committee chair Krystal Gutierrez emphasized the importance of programs such as these within the black community.
“We want to encourage our youth to attend college to further their education and their careers,” Gutierrez said. “Additionally, we want to encourage students to always keep historically black colleges and universities as an option when thinking of attending college to enhance our higher educational institutions.”
To date, Xi Sigma Omega has awarded more than $140,000 in scholarships since 1983, through various events including its annual fashion show and luncheon and the organization’s Pearls of Hope Community Foundation (POHCF), an affiliate of the Montgomery County chapter.
Incorporated into the organization in 2014 as a charitable nonprofit, POHCF’s mission includes providing scholarships to high school graduates in Montgomery County and developing and carrying out charitable educational programs in order to support Xi Sigma Omega’s community service programs.
“Charitable organizations such as The Pearls of Hope Community Foundation, Inc. are significant and essential because we have the power to improve the quality of life at the individual and community level,” said LaNay Coleman, president of the foundation. “Without the help of partnerships, collaborations, volunteers and financial donations, there would be a substantial deficit in providing many day-to-day necessities and services to today’s complex communities. An African proverb says, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.'”
Stacey Mangham, Xi Sigma Omega chapter president, encourages community members to support scholarship funding through efforts that include donating directly to POHCF, passing out scholarship information to high school seniors and supporting collaborations such as the organization’s annual fashion show and luncheon.
“Through organization’s such as these, our students are challenged to bring their best selves forward, as they find ways to participate in our application process,” Mangham said. “Students find ways to leverage all resources available to them utilizing mentors, resume writing and public-speaking workshops, all of which are invaluable skills for our youth.”