By Alexis Flores
Northwestern Mutual is empowering Milwaukee youth through their HBCU Connection Scholarship. The scholarship, for students pursuing their secondary education at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) awards $7,500 annually in both their freshman and sophomore years, followed by paid corporate internship opportunities the summer before their junior year and senior years respectively. The scholarship, along with financial support, also provides paid corporate internship opportunities following their junior and senior years. According to the Northwestern Mutual website, “Ultimately, the internships will give them the foundation and business acumen to secure post graduate career opportunities, with qualifying students potentially eligible for full-time employment at Northwestern Mutual.”
The Milwaukee Courier had the opportunity to interview one of the recipients, Alexandria Woods, who will be attending Howard University in the fall.
Tell me about yourself. Where did you grow up, go to school in Milwaukee?
I was born and raised here in Milwaukee, and even though I thought I sometimes like to throw a little shade at my city, I do believe that it has shaped me so much as an individual. I have attended MPS schools since K-4 and it has offered me quite the experience. From 3rd through 8th grade, I attended Golda Meir, which gifted me with so many rich experiences and opportunities at such a young age. Additionally, I am definitely a very proud Rufus King alum and credit a lot of my current trajectory in life for the journey I endured within those four walls.
Where will you be attending college? What are you majoring in or planning to major in?
This August, I will be attending the illustrious Howard University, which I clearly have so much pride for already. There, I will be majoring in Theatre Arts with an Acting concentration. I have always considered myself a storyteller and have been performing for practically my whole life, so my heart is truly rooted in theatre arts, especially from the perspective as an actor. Additionally, Howard has always been kind of like a dream school for me, so being able to have the rich experience that is studying at such a dynamic HBCU and pursuing what fulfills me most is truly a blessing.
How did you hear about Northwestern Mutual’s scholarship program? What made you decide to apply for it?
I heard about the Northwestern Mutual scholarship program through my school counselor and IB psych teacher. I was immediately interested and soon began the application process. What initially intrigued me was that it was a scholarship for students in the Milwaukee area who are attending HBCUs for higher level education. It feels amazing to feel seen and represented, especially for a local scholarship opportunity.
When did you apply for the scholarship? What was your response when you learned that you had been selected to receive the scholarship?
I applied for the scholarship in mid-June and felt really hopeful. When I found out I got the scholarship, I was absolutely ecstatic and immediately told my mother, who was also ecstatic! I then told the rest of my family and it was just a wonderful moment of utter gratitude and thanksgiving.
How do you see this scholarship helping you achieve your goals?
At first glance, this scholarship fund is helping support my family and I as I pursue higher level education. This fund will help alleviate the costs of being a student at Howard University. Additionally, I see this scholarship further broadening my horizons and providing me with a rich opportunity to expose me to new possibilities. My passions primarily lie in theatre arts, but I consider myself to be a very well-rounded individual and I believe the Northwestern Mutual scholarship program will offer me experiences in fields I might not be focusing on in my immediate studies but can still seek to develop.
I know you have quite a bit of time before this happens, but what plans do you have once you graduate from college?
My overall plan is to become a well-rounded, working actress, in both theatre and film. There is such a thrilling rush of fulfillment and passion I feel when I am working on projects as an actress. Hopefully, through the work I put forth in my BFA program, I will be provided with the chance to explore my other interests which are behind the scenes- directing and casting directing. I truly believe that theatre arts can change lives and I see it as my goal to authentically share stories of the world that can represent our society and varying facets.
Congratulations again to Alexandria, as well as the eight students who join her in receiving the scholarship: Brooklyn Johnson (Alabama State University), Bryant Johnson (Alabama State University), D’Essence Johnson (Miles College), Izayah Briggs (North Caroline Agricultural and Technical State University), Lauren Hartlaub (Howard University), Lyric Nelson (Xavier University of Louisiana), Michael Lawrence (Alabama A&M University), and Savion Jarvis (North Caroline Central University).