2021 Justice High School Scholarship Recipients

In 2021, the Foundation was pleased to be able to award scholarships to 75 motivated and deserving students. Here is a sampling of their inspiring stories.

Joey is seen by her teachers as someone “with a strong sense of purpose and the drive to keep moving forward.” She maintained a 4.1 GPA at Justice while still finding the time to volunteer. Joey says the confidence she gained by participating in the Korean Club lead to her involvement with the larger community. Despite the restrictions of COVID, Joey found ways to help others. She volunteered with the Virtual Reading Buddies program at the local public library and the E Book Buddy after-school reading program. She also wrote supportive letters to residents of a retirement community. Joey plans on majoring in either pharmacology or information technology. Joey says, “By going to college I believe I can gain insights and experiences, and discover what is truly right for me.” She is attending George Mason University.

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As Wassime started high school, he was headed down a dangerous path. At the time he was running with a bad crowd—kids who dealt drugs, carried firearms, fought, missed increasingly large amounts of school. Some got arrested, one died of a drug overdose. Wassime chose to go in the opposite direction. Early in his time at Justice, he made friends with more serious-minded students, participated in sports, volunteered at his mosque, tutored younger kids at the neighborhood library, took an increasingly heavy course load, and did well in his classes. Today, Wassime strives to be a role model for his two younger siblings. He is studying aerospace engineering at Virginia Tech, where he wants to do well so he can get a good job and help his parents financially.

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Valentina has wanted to be a lawyer for as long as she can remember. “Helping people has always been one of my greatest joys.” Valentina certainly has the drive and talent to reach her objectives. While at Justice, Valentina successfully juggled a full load of classes, including nine IB classes, while working 20 hours a week and still having time to mentor students. Valentina credits her parents for teaching her the value of education and giving back to the community. Valentina and her family helped lead a drive to rebuild a school and community center in their hometown of Santa Rosa, Bolivia. Valentina is attending Colgate University and hopes to join the Peace Corp before going to law school.

Anthony was an IB Diploma candidate who completed his extended essay with (as his advisor noted) “uncommon perseverance, initiative, and insight.” That perseverance began as a child when he had to overcome a speech impediment for which he was bullied. In addition to excelling in academics, Anthony played soccer at a competitive level for years and used those skills to earn income as a referee. He also has many family responsibilities, including translating for his parents and helping his sister with her homework. He enjoys playing, and teaching others to play, chess. Anthony will be the first in his family to attend college, and anticipates studying engineering at the University of Virginia.

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Anika plans to pursue psychology at William and Mary to help remove the stigma surrounding mental health. “As a Bengali-American woman, I know that mental health is often considered a taboo topic in our culture,” says Anika. She is particularly interested in helping women who struggle with domestic abuse and discrimination. While at Justice, Anika joined Girls Up and the Equity Team. Both programs aim to encourage positivity and lift up women in the community. Anika maintained a challenging academic load with eight IB courses and was involved in the Justice community mentoring freshmen and leading the Library Book Club. One of her teachers described Anika as an “academic powerhouse” because of the “passion she shows for using knowledge to fight for social justice.”

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Margarita’s goal is to work for a non-profit developing affordable and sustainable housing. She plans to major in environmental science and architecture at the University of Virginia. Margarita mentored students in the Next Gen program at Justice. Even though she maintained a 4.13 GPA and took 12 IB classes at Justice, she recalls the difficulties of being a first-generation American. “I see myself in my students and would never want them to feel alone with their schoolwork like I did.” As one teacher observed, “This pandemic did not stop her from being an efficient mentor—she has proven to be effective even as she meets with her mentees and their parents on Zoom.” Margarita’s own academic success and her desire to help others become successful will make her an impressive addition to the University of Virginia community.

Firdawsse’s family suffered financial setbacks because of the pandemic, but she persevered and found time to volunteer at her mosque to distribute food and connect recipients to follow-up support. She helped support her family with a job at Michaels. She used the skills learned at the Young Leaders Leadership program at GWU as an officer in the Muslim Students Association and as a mentor to a group of freshmen in the Justice HS Wolf Program. Commended by a teacher for “a dedication to learning and a willingness to challenge herself,” she looks forward to pursuing her love of science with a nursing major at George Mason University.

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Praised by teachers for her positive energy and eagerness to learn, Lauren sought out opportunities including a paid internship through the Urban Alliance and a grant for the Summer Politics Academy at Harvard University. A hard worker, she managed a job at Dick’s Sporting Goods while tutoring elementary students and being active in clubs and sports, including volleyball, basketball, and winter track. Lauren is a first-generation college student and is attending James Madison University.