HBCU Bound: South LA Teen Tech Center Students Awarded UNCF Scholarships 

Reward comes to those who work hard and dream big. This statement holds true for two students at South LA Best Buy Teen Tech Center, Jimmy Wilson and Kinaya Smith. The students were recently awarded scholarships from the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) in partnership with Best Buy. This prestigious award, open to just a few select candidates, reflects the dedication and talent of these remarkable students.

Jimmy Wilson, an aspiring engineer, has been an integral part of our tech center community. Driven by his passion for coding, Jimmy’s hard work and determination led him to secure a paid internship through our partners at YoWatts Youth Source Center. Now, he is heading to Tuskegee University, where he will use his scholarship towards tuition for his engineering degree. 

Kinaya Smith, a born leader, and effective advocate, demonstrated her unique abilities by heading the tech center’s social justice initiative, the Youth Advocacy Program. Accepted into multiple universities, she chose to carry on her family’s legacy at Howard University. Although Kinaya has yet to finalize how she will utilize her scholarship, she is considering options like housing, tuition, and books. 

The scholarships, offering up to $10,000 per year and renewable for three years for a total potential aid of $40,000, are a testament to the hard work and dedication of these students. Out of six candidates who applied from the tech center, Jimmy and Kinaya were the two successful recipients. Their success underscores the critical role of partnerships and the supportive and nurturing environment provided by our tech center. Collaborations with organizations like YoWatts Youth Source Center, Best Buy, and UNCF allow VSEDC to extend opportunities to its students that they might not otherwise have. 

Both students acknowledged the guidance and mentorship of Thai Buckman, the Program Coordinator at the Center. She played an instrumental role in the application process, providing encouragement and mentorship. “Honestly, it took a lot of mothering and staying on top of them, but they did it!” Thai says, expressing her pride in their achievement. 

As Jimmy and Kinaya prepare to depart for university in early August, we at VSEDC can’t help but reflect on how their journeys echo our mission. Each student, each mentor, and each partnership contributes to the fabric of such success stories. These achievements strengthen our commitment to fostering an environment that supports students in their unique paths, cheering them on every step of the way.

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