Local nonprofit awards 18 scholarships

Michaela Cromarty, center, flanked by her parents, Faye McKnight, far left, and Kim Green, far right
L-R: Faye McKnight, Valencia Cromarty, Michaela Cromarty, Michael Cromarty, and Kim Green at Thursday's ceremony.
Courtesy of Faye McKnight

The Twenty Pearls Foundation, Inc. hosted its annual scholarship award program Thursday night and recognized 18 young African American female scholars for their academic excellence and philanthropic efforts throughout the community.

The private event took place at LifeSouth Blood Center in Gainesville and awarded $15,000 in scholarship funding, according to Faye McKnight, president and CEO of Twenty Pearls.

“Even though it is a private ceremony, we do allow the recipients to bring family members [or any guest of their choosing],” McKnight said. “It averages out to about two people per recipient.”

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McKnight said the event included a presentation introducing the scholars, acknowledging their achievements and the ability to maintain a 3.0 to 4.0 GPA in high school.

All recipients received a monetary scholarship between the amount of $500 and $2,000 based on several qualifications of the program.

“I feel really proud that we have several girls from the Alachua County area,” McKnight said. “We’re helping them with their future endeavors in life and I think helping financially is one way of doing it. We might not be able to go to class with them or the university that they are going to but to help enhance their educational experience I think helps.”

McKnight also said each year, one of the selected recipients will come back to the annual event to share their thoughts on their experience of how the scholarship has helped them and tell how they are moving forward with their education.

One of this year’s recipients, Michaela Cromarty, is a graduate of Gainesville High School, said she feels honored because it helps a lot of young Black girls in the community to be a part of something special while also limiting the debt they may accrue once they go to college.

“I believe that [through this program] young girls can learn to take every opportunity given to them and become motivated and dedicated to bettering themselves and learn how to work hard towards something to accomplish their goals and dreams,” Cromarty said.

Cromarty plans to attend Claflin University, the oldest historically Black college/university in South Carolina, majoring in business administration. She aspires to become a professional sports agent and said she will take her love of softball to the collegiate level.

Six members of the scholarship committee attended the event, including the board of directors of the organization and other members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Listed below, are all the 2023 recipients of the Twenty Pearls scholarship from several schools in Alachua County:

  • Alira Goston—Gainesville High
  • Michaela Cromarty—Gainesville High
  • Diamond Brooks—Eastside High
  • Acariyah Nelson—Gainesville High
  • Leyah Houston—Gainesville High
  • C’iara Jenkins—Gainesville High
  • Samantha Jones—Eastside High
  • So’Unique High—P.K. Yonge
  • Keionti Watson—P.K. Yonge
  • Jaiden Holt—Buchholz High
  • Adia Jones—Loften High
  • Gainey Payton—Gainesville High
  • Danasia Jenkins—Gainesville High
  • Amariah Jackson—Gainesville High
  • Breyona Eastman—Gainesville High
  • Senai McCoy—Newberry High
  • Mikavla Johnson—Gainesville High
  • Payton Morand—Gainesville High
Faye McKnight, far left, and Kim Green, far right, stand with Twenty Pearls scholarship recipients
Courtesy of Faye McKnight Faye McKnight, far left, and Kim Green, far right, stand with Twenty Pearls scholarship recipients.

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