The Scholarship Fund of Alexandria Spring Gala, known as Alexandria’s biggest black-tie party, is coming up on April 27th. The event, in its 33rd year, is a terrific opportunity for Alexandrians to show their style and help Alexandria students with financial need get to college.
The annual Scholarship Fund Gala and Silent Auction is a cornerstone of the Alexandria spring social season. Since 1986 it’s been bringing together more than 550 business, community, education leaders and fun-loving Alexandrians. The Gala supports the Scholarship Fund which provides $1 million in college scholarships each year to T.C. Williams graduates with financial need.
Stylebook caught up with two scholarship recipients to talk about how their scholarships gave them a solid start, where they are now, and why they are both attending this year’s gala.
Meet Tiana Barlow, former T.C. Titan and 2012 Scholarship Fund of Alexandria scholarship recipient. With the help of SFA, Tiana received a degree in Justice Studies from James Madison University in 2016, and this past spring received her Masters in Public Administration & Non-Profit Management from JMU. The SFA scholarship helped her get her start, and her hard work and determination propelled her to succeed in achieving her Masters.
Tiana recently returned to T.C. Williams as Assistant Director of the Scholarship Fund, where she oversees the management and awarding of all of the scholarships — no small task. Fun fact about Tiana — in addition to an award-winning smile, she also has her black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
“I’m really glad to be back helping students at T.C. There are so many ways people can become involved, from donating to fund scholarships, attending the Gala or Sponsoring the Gala, to donating an item to our Silent Auction to promote your business. We also need volunteers to help read and score scholarship applications or and to help mentor our recipients. It feels good to give back, especially to these kids. Once you meet the students, you’re totally in!”
“This will be my first time attending the gala. It will be great to thank all of our supporters in person and to celebrate this year’s scholarship recipients.”
Abigail Osei is a T. C. Williams Alum and 2013 Scholarship Fund scholarship recipient. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and religious studies. She is currently a college adviser with the Scholarship Fund working through the Virginia College Advising Corps program.
As a college adviser, her responsibilities include providing college and financial aid advice to T.C. Williams students and their families and organizing events to cultivate a college-going culture. Abigail is planning to begin graduate work next fall, pursuing her Masters in Social Work with a focus on working with youth and families. One interesting hobby of hers is that she loves watching Korean dramas.
“I have really enjoyed being back at T.C. It’s a wonderful, vibrant school and community. What people may not realize is that there is tremendous need at the school. More than 64 percent of students and their families hover near the poverty level. They are bright, hard-working, and motivated. They have the drive to attend college, but not the funds. Once you understand this and get to know these kids, it’s really hard not to support them.”
“The Gala is a great night for a great cause. It will be my second year attending. When you see the students standing up at the podium at the Gala saying, essentially, ‘thank you for giving me the gift of higher education, thank you for making college possible for me.’ — they are so inspirational. Once you hear directly from them, giving, and giving back is easy.”