Our Fall 2019 Scholarship Winner is…
Posted on: 10 October 2019
Everyone at Fig is driven by their passion for helping communities become financially healthy. We created the Fig Loans Scholarship for Social Impact to invest in students who, like us, aspire to be a positive force for change in their communities.
The Scholarship for Social Impact grants a $1,000 scholarship to one college or graduate student each year to help aid that student’s educational and professional goals. This year, we posed this question to our applicants:
At Fig, our passion is to create a more inclusive world by expanding access to financial services. How will you create a more inclusive world? Through your studies or work experience, what is the issue you are tackling? How did you become passionate about the issue? How will you use your education to create a long standing solution to this issue?
We got an overwhelming number of incredible applications from all around Texas, Missouri and Illinois but we’d be lying if we didn’t say that one application stood out to us the most… This year, we are SO excited and proud to announce that our Fall 2019 Fig Scholarship for Social Impact winner is…
Originally from Valdosta, Georgia, Keyanna saw first hand the importance of basic needs thanks to her heroic grandmother, Mrs. Vera Dotson. A foster grandparent, Grandma Vera started an informal coat drive for her students using funds from her own pocket, supplying coats out of the trunk of her car because she saw how crucial warm clothing was to their academic success. Sadly, Grandma Vera passed in 2016 but Keyanna and her family keep her memory alive by continuing her work, holding the coat drive every November.
According to Keyanna, organizing the coat drive helped her see "the positive effects the coat drive had on students, families, and the community at large", sparking her interest in public health. Keyanna remembers this moment, all of the questions "about the basic health needs of [her] community, the means by which these needs could be met, and the barriers to improving the community's health" swirling around her head. Ultimately, Keyanna decided to take matters into her own hands and obtained an internship at the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Keyanna's internship at the Georgia Department of Public Health further showed her the value of diverse partnerships in developing coalitions to make communities healthier. Ultimately, it was this experience that inspired Keyanna to get dual Master's degrees in Public Health and Public Affairs from the prestigious Univeristy of Texas at Austin. According to Keyanna, her dual degrees will "give [her] a unique skill set to advocate and work for the empowerment of disenfranchised communities by ensuring the basic resources and conditions necessary for health are accessible."
With a target graduation date of May 2021, we asked Keyanna what her post-graduate plans were. She explained, "my ten-year goal is to serve as the Director of Public Health for a state agency. I wish to use my policy expertise to develop plans for community-based health programs and direct health departmetns, while using my public health expertise to convey policy implications and best practices into the decision-making processes of social and economic policies."
Being the superstar she is, Keyanna doesn't want to stop there. Alongside her public service career goals, Keyanna plans on creating the VERA Foundation, a non-profit organization and community center in honor of her grandmother. Keyanna's vision is for the VERA Foundation to serve as a "pillar for health and wellness in [her] community with resources such as recreational activities, fruit and vegetable gardens with nutrition classes, mental health counseling, job preparation techniques, higher education assistance and other resources tailored to meet the needs of the community."
When she's not working towards her dual graduate degrees or organizing her family's coat drive, Keyanna serves as the Secretary of Black Graduate Students Assocation at UT Austin, the Vice President of Community Affairs of Soecity for Women and Leadership at UT Health, a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the Austin Area Urban League Young Professionals. She also works full time as a Front Desk Clerk with Foundation Communities, a Fig partner non-profit focusing on providing affordable housing in Austin.
As for her next project, Keyanna is already in the works of organizing the 2019 VERA Foundation Coat Drive. If you or anyone you know would like to donate new or gently used coats, jackets, sweaters, sweatshirts, pullovers, hoodies, and windbreakers for school age children (kindergarden- 8th grade) to the VERA Foundation, please send the items to the following address: ATTN: VERA Foundation, #11 Redwood Circle, Valdosta, GA 31601.
We’re so incredibly proud to contribute to Keyanna's incredible ambition and passion for making our communities healtheir by awarding her with the $1,000 Scholarship for Social Impact for her Masters in Public Health and Public Affairs. We were honored to have her apply for our scholarship and inspired to be a part of her journey. We can’t wait to watch her change lives of an entire generation and many generations to come!