Selma Rotary Club awards three scholarships in honor of former president

Published 5:17 pm Friday, April 21, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Travis Gupton

The Selma Times-Journal

The lives of three Dallas County seniors changed in a big way thanks to the Rotary Club of Selma on April 10 when they received scholarships as part of the club’s annual Renee Kelley Wilkerson Scholarship Day.

Email newsletter signup

It started with seven seniors who competed for the scholarships down to the recipients: Hayden Primm of Dallas County High, Morgan Academy’s John Allen Ingram and Meadowview Christian’s Will Lewis.

Taliah Smith of Southside,  Keith’s Javon Richardson, Ellwood Christian’s Azali Fortier, Kenwin Stallworth Jr. of Selma High were the other candidates.

All seven students delivered passionate speeches about how the scholarship will help further their education and return someday to make Selma and Dallas County a wonderful place.

Primm plans to attend Auburn University and become a teacher. Ingram plans to attend Auburn, and one day attend the University of Alabama Law School to become an Attorney.

Smith plans to attend Wallace Community College-Selma and become a Nurse.

Each student received a monetary award but three received the top three scholarships. Primm came in third place and received a $500 scholarship. Ingram received second place and a scholarship of $1,000. In first place was Lewis who got a $1,500 scholarship.

The future is also bright for the other scholarship candidates. Fortier recently was accepted at Spelman College.  Richardson plans to study at WCCS, and eventually study Agriculture at Tuskegee University.  Stallworth plans to attend Alabama A&M and pursue a Marine Biology career.  Lewis plans to start at Shelton State Community College.

“I am so very proud of our young leaders,  Rotary Scholarship Chair Jerria Martin said. “Each of them was chosen by their school to represent them in our oratorical contest and I definitely understand why they were chosen. Each of them has clear goals, partnered with the passion and commitment to achieve them.

“We were very impressed by their presentations and accomplishments. I believe with all my heart that we’re supporting the development of Selma’s next top attorney, educator, and healthcare professional.”

Each student had to present why they deserved to receive a scholarship before the club and each student did great but Martin said the Top 3 stood out.

“The students have 3-5 minutes to share before the club to share their accomplishments and share why they deserve the scholarship.

“They shared their goals and some of their accomplishments. So they had 3-5 minutes to plead their case of why they are deserving of that award. The best ones like the winner Will had no notes or anything. He commanded the room. I loved his. Ingram wants to be an attorney so he came up and pleaded his case like you would in court. They have fun with it.”

Martin said that Scholarship Day is named after Renee Kelley Wilkerson who was the youngest president of the Rotary Club and lost her life at an early age.

“I have been the chair of the Scholarship competition for the last five years,” Martin said. “Last year was the first time I got the idea to put a name to it because it was just always just called the scholarship competition. Back in 2018, Renee died and she owned the Talley-Ho restaurant with Paul. She and Paul owned the Talley-Ho restaurant. Her dad Bob Kelley was like Mr.Rotarian. He was in Rotary for like 40 years. He was one of our key pivotal members. He brought her in. She was the youngest president. When she died she was only 30. When she was club president she was 21-22. She made history within our district. So we decided to name this scholarship in her honor because she accomplished so much at a young age.”