Five high school seniors won college scholarship awards totaling $3,750 for their speeches about gospel music during the Heritage Music Foundation’s (HMF) 2017 Gospel Music Festival.
Dr. Margaret Pleasant Douroux, CEO and founder of the foundation, hosts the contest each year during HMF’s month-long celebration of gospel music. Over the course of 13 years, HMF has awarded $37,500 to more than 50 students, thanks to donations from friends of Heritage who believe in helping young people and are passionate about education.
The event precedes Heritage’s national annual conference set for June 21-24 in Los Angeles. At the gathering, the organization mentors young people and feature local gospel choirs, groups and soloists.
Douroux is the composer of several gospel classics including “We’re Blessed,” “Rivers of Joy,” “He Decided,” “Give Me a Clean Heart,” and “If It Had Not Been For The Lord On My Side.” Sharing her vision to establish a ‘Gospel House,’ she said, “I envision it to have a concert hall, museum, and awards programs.”
First place scholarship honors went to Shalonda Ward, who was awarded $1,100 and plans to attend CSU Dominguez Hills. Ward, who attends Washington Prep High School, recalled attending the contest as a sophomore watching one of her church members win.
“I chose my topic, ‘From Slave Songs to Saved Songs,’ because we are entering a time where everything that our ancestors have fought for, and everything that people who have came before our time established, is on the verge of being taken away from us. Our music, has paved the way for a lot of the music that we listen to today,” said Ward
Expressing pleasure with this year’s results, Dr. April Parker, the event’s coordinator, said, “Many of these students are first-time college students. They have the GPAs and test scores to get accepted into some of the best colleges, but they often need financial help.”
While the Heritage scholarships don’t cover the full tuition, they help students prepare to seek scholarship opportunities, noted Jewel Coates, a student at Moorpark High School who walked away with an $800 scholarship.
“Growing up, I remember watching the seniors compete for these scholarships, now I’m glad to have the opportunity to compete myself,” said Coates. She will attend Howard University and major in political science. Her goal is to become a civil rights attorney.
Other awardees were Kari Brown, an Episcopal High School student and winner of $750; Farah Khademi, who attends Serra High School and won $600; and Arthur Peters III, a Narbonne High School student who earned $500.
To learn more about HMF, call (323) 491-6972 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.