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2021 Senior Earns $40,000 Scholarship
The Scholarship Fund of Alexandria (SFA) surprised 2021 T.C. Williams' graduate Sara Abbas with its largest scholarship, "Titans in Tech," worth $40,000. The Titans in Tech Scholarship was established this year by T.C. Williams Alum Brett Sirois, the founder and chief recruiter with Stem IT, to help a T.C. William's student afford a 4-year education in computer science at a Virginia state school.
Sirois joined ACPS Superintendent and former SFA scholarship recipient Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr., T.C. Williams High School Principal Peter Balas, SFA Executive Director Beth Lovain and SFA staff for the surprise announcement. Abbas thought she was participating in an interview for scholarship eligibility; instead, she was notified of the $40,000 scholarship award.
"This scholarship is a relief. My family struggled financially due to the COVID pandemic. The scholarship will relieve a major burden for my family and me. It will enable me to focus on my education and the goal I have set of graduating Summa Cum Laude. It will help me expand my expectations for myself," said Abbas. "The Titans in Tech Scholarship will also allow me to invest more time in my work with the National Society of Black Engineers and mentoring middle school girls in technology. I tell the students that I mentor to keep pushing and never to give up, and this is why," said Abbas.
Thanks to the scholarship, Abbas will study Computer Science at Virginia Tech next fall. She began her ACPS education at William Ramsay Elementary School and is an outstanding student at T.C. Williams High School. Abbas has also been very involved as the vice-president of the Future Business Leaders of America, a TechGirlBoss Ambassador, an Arabic tutor, a teaching assistant and the Treasurer of the National Society of Black Engineers, T.C. chapter. She is a first generation student in her family to attend college.
"As a T.C. Alum and Alexandria native, I wanted to find a way to give back to the community that helped me get to where I am today," said Titans in Tech scholarship creator Brett Sirois. "This scholarship was created to help students like Sarah jumpstart careers in technology, and I'm happy to play a small part in her future success. Sara has worked so hard to get so far already. I have no doubt that the sky's the limit for her," added Sirois.
In her SFA scholarship application, Abbas said she believes in the vital link between technology and power and the need to make computer science accessible to all students. As an aspiring software engineer or app developer, she also said she is committed to breaking down barriers between marginalized communities and Computer Science. She wants to be a role model for young girls and people of color interested in pursuing tech and Computer Science.
Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. said, "I am so grateful to Brett for caring enough to give back and pass his success on to future Titans. As a woman, and a person of color, entering the Computer Science world and looking to help students of color who follow behind you (Sarah), I can see that you are on the way to change the world, that you are going to make a difference," Hutchings added.
"Sara, you represent everything that our high school and being a Titan is all about. This scholarship is going to be a game-changer for you and your family. And I can see that you are going to be a game-changer too. Congratulations, Sara," said T.C. Williams Principal Peter Balas during the call.
"We are truly thrilled to award this scholarship today. During this time when many of our students and families are facing great financial difficulties during COVID, it's wonderful to help a student find a way to afford college," said SFA Executive Director Beth Lovain. "Sara is a wonderful, bright, and hard-working student. Her teachers have lauded her as a natural leader and a top performer in mathematics and the Academy of Finance. They described her as being wise beyond her years. We are so proud of all that Sara has accomplished at T.C. and cannot wait to see just how high she can rise," Lovain added.
During April, SFA will announce $525,000 in additional scholarships to 180 students from the Class of 2021. The Scholarship Fund of Alexandria has been working to raise Emergency Funds during COVID-19 to address the increased need among low-income families in Alexandria due to COVID economics. SFA is continuing to raise money to fund scholarships for the Class of 2021 and provide renewals for previous scholarship winners with financial need–former T.C. graduates and SFA scholarship recipients completing their sophomore, junior or senior year of college. SFA saw a 25% increase in scholarship applications for these continuing students last summer.
To support our community's increased need, The Scholarship Fund will hold its 35th Anniversary Spring Gala – Gala 35 – virtually on April 24, 2021. Information on tickets, sponsorship, donations, and registering for the online auction can be accessed on the SFA website.
The SFA, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, was founded in 1986 to help T.C. Williams students with financial need afford college. For the past 35 years, SFA has raised funds to support college access and scholarships for students with financial need. Over the past three and a half decades, the Scholarship Fund has awarded more than $16.5 million in scholarships and helped send nearly 5,000 local kids to college.