Southeastern student receives national scholarship for community service efforts

Sonya Davis
Contact: Rene Abadie
Date: September 25, 2012

      HAMMOND – A Southeastern Louisiana University student is one of 40 college students across the nation to receive a scholarship for her dedication and efforts to better her community.

     RBS Citizens Financial Group awarded Sonya Davis $2,500 as part of the TruFit Good Citizen Scholarship challenge. She was the first runner up to the grand prize in the competition. The company chose the winners based on responsibility and leadership skills demonstrated through service to others.

     According to the RBS Citizens Financial Group, more than 5,000 high school seniors and college students applied for the scholarships available in the TruFit Good Citizen program. A student from Northern Arizona University won the $5,000 grand prize. Davis was one of four runner-ups to receive the $2,500 award; 35 additional students received a $1,000 prize.

     Davis grew up in Bayou Goula in Iberville Parish and is currently enrolled at Southeastern as she applies to the School of Nursing. Coming out of high school, she received an athletic scholarship from the University of Kansas. She then transferred to St. Petersburg College in Florida, where she earned an associate of arts degree and later graduated with a degree in psychology at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

     Upon her return to Louisiana, Davis approached the Iberville Parish School Board with a plan to help teenaged mothers.

     "In 1998 I was 14 and I lost my grandmother -- who raised me -- and my father, one month apart," Davis said. "I already had a child when I left for college and now have four children. I didn't want other girls to quit school, so I came up with a way to try and help them stay."

     Davis designed a curriculum with information on Medicaid, medical insurance and family planning. She began working at a summer enrichment program, where she taught seventh and eighth grade students.

     "I started my own ACT prep class because I noticed that in the underserved areas there are a lot of juniors and seniors who are not prepared sufficiently for the ACT," she said.

     She later launched a similar initiative for younger students practicing for the LEAP tests.

     Davis describes a good citizen as one who can still give, despite personal obstacles. During part of her volunteerism, she worked five hours a day, seven days a week.

     "I still have this motivation and drive to help people," Davis said. "Having children is not the thing that burdens you or keeps you from achieving your goals. My ultimate goal is to help children."

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