As an active member of the Junior League of Dallas and a part of the Mary Kay family, the Mary Kay Women LEAD (Learn Excel Achieve Dream) Scholarship program has always been a passion of mine. This year, I had the opportunity to serve as Project Chair for the Scholarship Program Committee, immersing myself in the program in a more meaningful way.
The Mary Kay Women LEAD Scholarship Program began in 2013, as a partnership between Mary Kay and the Junior League of Dallas, to support the educational dreams of future women leaders in the Dallas community. Since the program’s inception, 16 young ladies have been positively impacted by the program, and after the latest Speech Competition and Awards Ceremony held on March 22, 2018, we proudly added 10 more students to that list.
My committee and I worked extensively throughout the year with high school girls at our three partner Dallas ISD schools: Emmet J. Conrad High School, Thomas Jefferson High School and South Oak Cliff High School. After three application workshops at each school, an extensive application review and selection process as well as two in-school speech preparation workshops, 10 finalists were chosen to compete for a chance to win scholarships at varying levels up to $15,000, with a total of $40,000 being distributed in 2018.
This year Kirsten Gappelberg, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainability at Mary Kay, who has been instrumental in the program since its inception, recommended that we award each student in the final round of competition with at least a $1,000 scholarship, leaving no one going home empty-handed. We also had the honor of having Julia A. Simon, Mary Kay Chief Legal Officer & Corporate Secretary, serving as one of three judges.
Our finalists all come from extremely difficult circumstances - some having lost siblings or parents, some witnessing violence and substance abuse in their homes, all with great financial need. Our first-place winner, Lal Lawmi, was a young lady born in a refugee camp. She lost her two younger brothers and father to illness in the camp due to lack of medical treatment. She too suffered her own health challenges, but after the UN granted her family entry into the U.S., she has seized every opportunity presented to her. Despite having only learned the English language less than four years ago, she is now ranked fifth in her class and will be attending the University of Texas at Austin in the fall. She dreams of heading to medical school after undergrad and hopes to help people in need in her home country. This young woman and her peer finalists are truly exceptional, inspiring and what Mary Kay’s mission is all about – enriching women’s lives and in this case, helping to elevate bright, motivated young women to their full potential, no matter their background.
Many thanks to Julia A. Simon, Kirsten Gappelberg, Seila Jenkins and their teams for their support, guidance and help to make this year’s Women LEAD Scholarship Program the best yet!