Oaklawn Foundation Scholarship: Empowering Bright Futures

By | July 14, 2023

Oaklawn Foundation Scholarship, In a heartwarming ceremony that resonated with hope and accomplishment, the Oaklawn Foundation, a steadfast pillar of support for educational advancement, once again illuminated the lives of Garland County students. The year was 2019, and on May 21st, in the serene halls of National Park College’s Frederick Dierks Building, the Oaklawn Foundation Scholarships Awards Ceremony unfolded. The event marked the fruition of dreams and the promise of brighter futures as 125 recipients from various walks of life gathered to be celebrated and encouraged. The Oaklawn Foundation, true to its mission, granted a cumulative total of $383,000 in scholarships during the event, reaffirming its unwavering commitment to fostering education and transforming lives.

Championing Dreams: The Oaklawn Foundation’s Scholarship Program

Since its inception in 2007, the Oaklawn Foundation’s scholarship program has burgeoned into an indispensable avenue for Garland County students to embark on journeys of academic and personal growth. The program’s primary goal is to provide deserving students with the means to realize their aspirations, irrespective of their chosen academic paths. Kerry Lockwood-Owen, the Chairwoman of the Oaklawn Foundation Scholarship Committee, aptly described the program as a unique gem within the landscape of educational support in Arkansas. As she addressed the awardees, she spoke of dreams taking flight, of visions transforming into realities, and of the profound impact each recipient would make on their community.

The scholarships awarded through the Oaklawn Foundation cater to a diverse range of individuals, spanning various age groups and pursuing an array of academic pursuits. This inclusivity underscores the foundation’s commitment to inclusiveness and empowerment across the educational spectrum. Notably, four scholarships valued at $5,000 each were bestowed upon Karl Lowrey, Dylan Wassan, Lucas Segal, and Lyca Steelman, each representing a distinct facet of excellence and potential.

The Oaklawn Foundation scholarship program is notably distinctive in its requirements, which emphasize not only academic merit but also the individual’s commitment to sharing their unique story. This approach allows the foundation to understand the journey and dreams of each applicant, thus enabling a tailored approach to support. With the minimum requirement being a GED and Garland County residency, the program reaffirms that education is not limited by age, background, or circumstance.

Empowering Stories of Transformation: The Power of Scholarship

Among the myriad stories of hope and transformation that the Oaklawn Foundation Scholarship program has nurtured, one stands out—a story that epitomizes the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. Desiree Skeya, the Executive Director of The Hope Movement, recounted her remarkable journey from a challenging upbringing to a beacon of inspiration for others. Born in New York City to parents ensnared by drug addiction, Desiree’s early years were uncertain and unstable. Foster homes were her reality until she was adopted at the age of 14. Despite the obstacles, Desiree’s determination to rise above her circumstances led her to pursue higher education.

After graduating high school, Desiree found herself grappling with addiction, having lost both her biological and adoptive fathers. Her battle with addiction led her through incarceration and rehabilitation, but the spark of hope never waned. In 2012, she embarked on her college journey, realizing her potential and embracing the opportunity to break the cycle of addiction that had ensnared her family for generations.

Desiree’s commitment to serving others led her to become the Executive Director of The Hope Movement, a faith-based organization dedicated to helping women overcome substance abuse. Her story is a testament to the profound impact of the Oaklawn Foundation’s support. It not only empowered her to transform her life but also equipped her with the tools to uplift others on their journeys to recovery and fulfillment.

Oaklawn Foundation: A Beacon of Community Support

The origins of the Oaklawn Foundation can be traced back to the Cella family’s desire to contribute to their community in Hot Springs. What began as an aspiration to give back has evolved into an instrumental force driving positive change through education. Eric Jackson, Senior Vice President of Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, highlighted the integral role the foundation plays in the community, emphasizing its symbiotic relationship with the successes of Oaklawn itself.

The formula underlying the foundation’s growth and impact is simple yet potent: a thriving business leads to greater resources for the foundation, which in turn channels those resources into the betterment of the community. The interplay between the Cella family’s vision, the efforts of the Oaklawn team, and the dedication of the foundation’s members underscores the collective commitment to nurturing educational pursuits within Garland County.

Throughout its 14-year journey, the Oaklawn Foundation has granted nearly 1,000 scholarships, epitomizing the transformational power of targeted support. Ira Kleinman, President of the Oaklawn Foundation, aptly summarized the essence of the scholarship program’s success—good people engaged in meaningful endeavors. The ripple effect of these scholarships reverberates far beyond financial assistance; it embodies a testament to the transformative potential of collective goodwill.

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An Ongoing Legacy: Inspiring Recipients to Give Back

As the 2019 Oaklawn Foundation Scholarship Awards Ceremony drew to a close, Kerry Lockwood-Owen left the recipients with a charge—to follow their dreams with greatness. This expectation extends beyond personal achievement; it embodies the foundation’s belief in the reciprocity of success. The Oaklawn Foundation instills in its recipients not only the aspiration to reach their own dreams but also the responsibility to return to their community and share their success stories. This virtuous cycle of empowerment ensures that the impact of the foundation’s support continues to expand, fostering a culture of giving back and paying it forward.

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The Oaklawn Foundation’s scholarship program is an exemplar of the profound impact that a focused and well-structured initiative can have on individual lives and an entire community. By championing dreams, amplifying stories of triumph, and fostering a spirit of community engagement, the foundation’s legacy endures as a beacon of hope and opportunity. The awardees of the Oaklawn Foundation scholarships not only receive financial support but are also imbued with a sense of purpose, empowerment, and the obligation to create positive change. As they continue on their educational journeys, they carry with them the Oaklawn Foundation’s legacy of transformation, ensuring that their dreams contribute to a brighter future for all.


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  1. Pingback: Gates Cambridge Scholarship: Empowering Global Changemakers

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