Through the help of the Simon Scholarship Program, Jaiva overcame her financial challenges and finished her high school career on a high note as 2012 resident valedictorian at Southwest DeKalb High School.
She said the foundation’s help was invaluable to her success.
“Through my two years with this foundation, I have grown and I have learned about myself,” she said. “My family, my dedication, my dreams and the emphasis of the foundation made the last two years of high school more unbelievable.”
Jaiva is headed to Kennesaw State University in the fall.
She and her Simon Scholars 2012 class were recognized at a May 31 Simon Foundation awards banquet at the Emory University Conference Center.
The 2012 class includes eight students each from Southwest DeKalb and Chamblee Charter high schools.
All of the students, who are academic high achievers, face economic worries caused by immigration, death, sickness and job loss.
Since its inception in 2004, the Irving, Calif.-based foundation has helped hundreds of disadvantaged youth and awarded more than $20 million in scholarships.
The Simon Scholars Atlanta Chapter, which started in 2005, has inducted 141 students who have received more than $4 million in scholarships.
Students in almost all of DeKalb’s high schools have received Simon Scholarships, but since 2008 it has elected all its scholars from four certified Simon Scholar High Schools – Southwest DeKalb, Druid Hills, Redan, and Chamblee – in DeKalb. The certified schools were chosen because of their successful academic programs and/or their proven records of success with implementing the Simon Scholars Program.
Each year, the foundation selects scholars from the schools’ sophomore class and offers them intensive support during their last two years in high school.
Annually, up to 20 scholarships are awarded across the four schools.
To qualify for the program, students must have at least a 2.5 academic grade-point average, be self-motivated, and be involved in community service.
Southwest DeKalb graduate Rodney Dew, who will be majoring in international business, said it was an incredible experience being a Simon scholar.
“It has helped me to expand my wings and develop into a great leader,” he said. “It has taught me that working with others is critical to my success. It has taught me the skills that will be valuable to my success at Howard University.”
At the May ceremony, Chamblee Charter High School graduate Forest Ogunyankin was named “Simon Scholar of the Year.” He will attend Vanderbilt University in the fall and major in neuroscience.
For more information about the Ronald M. Simon scholarship program, visit www.simonscholars.org.