Horatio Alger Association Honors local student as part of its 2015 Awards

Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education, hosted its 68th Horatio Alger Awards Induction Ceremonies in Washington, D.C. April 9 – 11.

Of the 4,000 applicants only 106 were chosen including Bonnie Celeste Haywood of Nanih Waiya Attendance Center.

“I was glad to be chosen yet felt there were so many more deserving,” said Haywood.

As part of the annual Awards weekend, Celeste Haywood was inducted as part of the new Member Class of 2015. The group is comprised of 12 elite business, civic and philanthropic leaders, all of whom have demonstrated a strong work ethic, honesty and determination on their road to personal and professional success. Events included a formal induction ceremony and numerous activities focused on celebrating the Association’s 12 esteemed new Members as well as the 106 National Scholars selected from across the United States.

“Meeting some many people and feeling connected to them with similar stories of resilience was one of the best parts of the event,” said Haywood.

Funding more than $110 million in scholarships since the establishment of its scholarship program in 1984, Horatio Alger Association has afforded more than 22,000 students the opportunity to pursue a college education.

Haywood plans to go to college and pursue a degree in education so she may give back.

“I want to help people,” said Haywood.

She added that her time at Nanih Waiya from the 6th grade until now had helped shape who she had become and was another she wanted to help others.

In 2015 alone, the Association awarded more than $10 million in need-based scholarships to 1,200 deserving, at-risk youth. Of these remarkable young people, 106 received the Horatio Alger National Scholarship, valued at $22,000, and were celebrated at this year’s Awards events. These exceptional Scholars – who are recognized for their unwavering commitment to continuing their education and serving their communities despite facing incredible hardships – interacted with Horatio Alger Members, many of whom will serve as mentors, providing guidance in advance of the Scholars’ first year of college.

“Each year, I am inspired by the extraordinary character and perseverance of the new Members and Scholars the Association selects and 2015 is certainly no exception,” said David Sokol, chairman of Horatio Alger Association. “The Awards weekend provides a powerful opportunity for Members and Scholars to come together and share their inspiring stories of success despite facing tremendous adversity. I’m humbled to be part of an organization that recognizes these well-deserving young men and women and I’m gratified by our work in helping to preserve the American Dream for generations to come.”

Members – like Scholars – have also faced adversities as well as displayed unmatched resilience in overcoming these challenges to achieve success. As part of the Association, each Member is committed to giving back and offering support and encouragement to today’s youth to help build the next generation of leaders. Moreover, these Members, along with Life Partners and Friends of the Association, are responsible for wholly supporting the scholarship program.

“Horatio Alger Association is founded on the notion that one can turn hardship into success through perseverance and hard work,” said Tony Novelly, president and CEO of Horatio Alger Association. “The Awards festivities are a wonderful opportunity to recognize men and women who embody personal and professional success, inspire those around them every day and truly exemplify the best of what our country has to offer. Each year, I am reaffirmed in our ongoing commitment to sustaining the American Dream and inspired to help our Scholars achieve in every way that they desire.”

Haywood was appreciative of the financial part of the scholarship which will allow her to go to college and help her succeed yet the best part for her was the time spent at the awards since she was able to interact with some many different people who all had a story and how they had overcome challenges.

Haywood also talked with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and movie actor Tom Selleck.

She noted the trip was an experience of a lifetime and she was grateful for all it encompassed.

Haywood with Supreme Court  Justice Clarence Thomas

Haywood with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Haywood and the other 105 members of the 2015 scholarship winners.

Haywood and the other 105 members of the 2015 scholarship winners.