By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader
Lindblom Math and Science Academy seniors recently celebrated their prom, and among the attendants was Samaiya Butler, who is the daughter of R.A.G.E. co-founder and president Aysha Butler and husband Antoine Butler. While the seniors looked great in their prom attire, both the young men and young women, Samaiya was celebrating much more, as she has earned a full-ride, four-year scholarship to HBCU standout Spelman College.
It may appear easy, but Samaiya had been determined to attend Spelman College since the beginning of her senior year. The Butlers have family in the Georgia area, and they visited Spelman College, attended a few workshops on financial aid and then went to work on seeking out financial resources.
“As a family we knew it would be quite expensive, so we immediately used various tools to help us find scholarships, such as Facebook pages like Scholarship Moms, a website called JLVC College Counseling, FastWeb and others,” said Aysha Butler. “We also worked closely with the high school counselor who sent scholarship alerts daily, as well as used our own personal networks to find out about local scholarships.”
Diligence is the key, Aysha Butler said, and you have to really read through the ones that your child qualifies for and then take action. “There were many scholarships available, but we didn’t waste our time trying to apply for ones for which Samaiya was not eligible. We narrowed our search so that we had a more targeted focus, and it paid off.”
Samaiya has been involved in extensive community work with the Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.), and she thought she would be an easy pick for the Bonner Scholarship at Spelman, but she was not chosen the first round. “She was initially discouraged but then decided to contact whoever would listen at Spelman to plead her case on why she should be considered for the Bonner Scholarship, which is rooted in community service,” Aysha said. After being told that additional funds were not available, she became even more aggressive in applying for external scholarships and continued to complete applications on a daily basis. She tracked her progress, deadlines, notification of awards, etc.
“I believe the initial rejection is what fired her up to work harder, and she finally won the Scholarship, which is a full ride to Spelman,” Aysha Butler said. She has been awarded a few others, and ended her senior year with a GPA of 4.0 and a score of 23 on the ACT. Samaiya will major in either education, early childhood development or English.
Samaiya and her friends looked beautiful when they went to the prom, and all of their family members and friends were proud of them. “I just wanted to make sure everything was perfect for Samaiya on this special day. She worked hard all school year and deserves the best,” said her father, Antoine Butler, aka DJ Dap. “So I worked hard to ensure this would be a magical and memorable experience for her. I know my mother is smiling down from Heaven and is just as proud as I am.”