Strong Roots Scholarship and Essay Contest Award Winners

Having received a great many applications, we are happy to announce the recognition of our winner of the Strong Roots Scholarship, who impressively demonstrates a strong commitment to her community and a dedication to her education.

2017 Winner: Emma Pachon

Ms. Pachon was born in Bogotá, Colombia. She was adopted by two Colombian women, her mother and grandmother, who brought her to the United States and helped her become a citizen. She holds dual citizenship of both countries and is extremely proud to be Colombian-American.

She grew up in Washington, D.C. and was lucky to have been given opportunities that she believes she would never have had if she had not been adopted. She is about to graduate from Saint Joseph’s University (The Hawk Will Never Die!) and she feels she could not have loved her four years there any more. She will be moving back home after graduating and attending American University Washington College of Law. She is excited and nervous to start this new chapter in her life!

She feels truly honored to have been selected winner of the 2017 Nicholas Braswell Strong Roots Scholarship. Having been chosen by such a prestigious law firm amazes her and is humbled by the outcome. She finds today’s definition of a community is constantly changing and she was able to reflect on that when writing the essay for the contest. This scholarship money will help her so much with law school and she hopes to make something of herself in the legal community. She is grateful to be able to say that the Nicholas Braswell scholarship has played a role in furthering her education and helping her on this difficult but satisfying journey.

2016 Winner: Olivia Phillips

Olivia Phillips is the 2016 award winner for the Michael Kiely Strong Roots ScholarshipIn 2016, Olivia Phillips, a freshman student at the University of Virginia, is the winner of the Healthy Roots Scholarship celebrating young students community involvement and educational ambitions. Olivia displays an expansive history of going above and beyond in service of others with her educational and advocacy ventures.

In her essay about how the community is changing in today’s world, Olivia wrote about how her extensive community service experience strengthens her desire to build a strong and healthy community for others.

She is actively trying to expand that community experience at the University of Virginia, where her goals include involving herself in both the UVA and larger Charlottesville communities. It takes a unique person to nurture a love of place and to put down strong, healthy roots within a community, and Olivia effectively illustrates the importance of putting roots down in her community in Virginia.

Upon receiving this scholarship, Ms. Phillips stated remembering the importance of roots as they give a person strength and stability, on good and bad days, and that nothing can replace the solid foundation someone sets by appreciating the people who surround them. With the help of her family during high school, she worked hard to look within her Hanover County community, finding ways to empathize with others and be more aware.

She is an active member of service clubs such as Autism Allies, Best Buddies, Pancakes for Parkinson’s, and Human-Animal Support Services, and those connections keep her grounded and “rooted” to what’s important. She sees a bright future involving activism, psychology or law, and her educational path and community involvement continue to open her mind to new possibilities and potential outstanding work that can truly make a difference.

The 2018 Strong Roots Scholarship

Details for our 2018 Strong Roots Scholarship will be announced soon.