Luther H. Black Memorial Scholarship Previous Winners

Dr. Luther H. Black Memorial Scholarship recipients:

Kaila Buck
Attended:  NW Arkansas Community College in Bentonville

Kaila is a 20 year-old who earned her GED® credential in April 2013.  She plans to enter the Early Childhood Education program at NWACC and pursue an education degree and professional license to teach Pre-K through 2nd grade.  Of her learning experience in adult education, Kaila said, “It took a good amount of effort and study on my part.  During the months of study, I sometimes felt that I would never exceed in passing the exam, but when I received my diploma in the mail, I was rewarded with the realization that my hours of perseverance had paid off….. I will now be able to obtain my degree in Early Childhood Education and accomplish my dream of seeing children learn new things and see them persevere as I have.”  
Kaila’s adult education instructor, Thora Jean Peters, commended Kaila as “unfailingly cheerful and respectful and is a delight to have in the classroom.”  And Kaila’s GED/College Prep instructor, Maricay Mazariego, evaluated Kaila by stating, “Your [Dr. Luther Black Memorial] scholarship gives aide to students in their academic work and they, in turn, give back to society.  Kaila has proven herself as such a student.  I can whole-heartedly support Kaila for this scholarship.  Her demonstrated leadership and vision have made a positive impact on our school community, and I have no doubt that this will continue at the university she will be attending.”
See this pdf for more information.

Picture Kaila Buck

Pictured above -Micaela Allison-Shropshire, Kaila Buck, Thora Jean Peters



Samantha Maroon
Attended: Fayetteville Adult Education Program

Samantha is a 26 year old single mother who passed the GED® test in June 2011.  When she applied for the LHB Scholarship, she had already completed two full-time semesters at NWACC with a cumulative GPA of 3.16.  In her letter of application, Samantha wrote, “Obtaining the Arkansas High School Diploma has meant a whole new world of opportunities, possibilities, and a new positive outlook on life for me.  Receiving my GED® has given me such an overwhelming sense of self-satisfaction and incidentally inspired me to pursue a career in adult education so that I may be given the chance to help people improve their lives.  One of my goals since receiving the GED® is to dedicate my life to empowering other single mothers, like myself, to be successful role models to their children.  I want parents to have the skills needed to help their children with homework rather than hindering them from becoming all they can be.  Since going to college, I have broken the cycle of instability and lack of education in my family.  I want to spread the idea that knowledge is power, and that it can never be taken away from you, no matter how old you are……With the knowledge and confidence I have gained since becoming an Arkansas High School graduate, I make a professional promise to not on ly further my education but also help others further theirs.”

In her recommendation of Samantha for the scholarship, her GED® instructor, Debbie Smith, writes, “Samantha has proven to me over and over again that she is committed to doing whatever it takes to complete her college education and do it well.  She loves learning.  While in GED® classes, she attended every day, usually all day, and often did homework at night….. Samantha has a kind spirit and a wonderful attitude.  In GED® class, she was wonderful at helping other students with class work and making new students feel welcome……when she came by our center to pick up her graduation cap and gown, she talked to my class about what college has been like for her.  She brought along several of her college books to donate to our students and told them things to help them be successful [in college].  Her positive attitude was infectious, and they were enthralled.  Samantha wants to be a teacher, and from everything I have witnessed, I think she will make an outstanding educator.”


Pictured above Debbie Smith, Samantha Maroon, Janie Carter, Bobbie Sanders, and Dubs Byers



Erin Evans
Attended: Valley View Adult Education Program in Jonesboro

Erin Evans earned her GED® credential in April 2011 at the age of 17 years.    Erin’s letter of application is quite moving and is quoted here:
“I am truly honored to be an applicant for the Dr. Luther H. Black Scholarship as a seventeen year-old.  I recently obtained my GED® with the help of the Valley View Adult Education Center under the direction of Mr. Steve Clayton, and I can honestly say that is has meant the world to me.
With this diploma, I am now able to go through with the plans that I have for my future.  I am able to attend Arkansas State University this fall, and come closer to my life-long dream:  a degree in teaching.
I have always had a passion for teaching that I could never really suppress.  Ever since I was a child, I would spend my time trying to absorb as much information both about advanced education and about life lessons as I possibly could.  My love for learning only grew stronger as I aged, more siginificantly when my mother [died an untimely death] in 2007.
Not only did I lose my loving mother, but also, due to my father’s unemployment I was forced to work in what little ways I could to keep all of the members of our household fed and happy at only thirteen years old.  I have had to financially support five people for the last four years, relying solely on the tips I received from playing guitar downtown.  Watching my father repeatedly make mistakes and constantly struggle to live day-to-day made me realize that I will not and cannot let myself suffer in such a way in the future….
Without [the Arkansas High School Diploma], I would not be able to continue my education, or to go forth with my dreams and deliver my love of learning to others.  I would not be able to get a decent job with a nice amount of pay that I can raise my children off of.  Finally, without my Arkanss High School Diploma, I would not be able to say that I am proud of who I am.  I would never be able to face myslef, had I chosen to fall into the path of [others] and cause a life of struggle for my family.
I can openly say that obtaining my GED® has changed my life and given me hope for a brighter future by opening doors that were closed before.”

2010 Dr. Luther H. Black Scholarship Award Winners

Timothy McElroy (New Award)
Clark County Adult Education Center, Arkadelphia

Adil Ayadi (Extended)
Fayetteville Adult Education Center, Fayetteville

2009 Dr. Luther H. Black Scholarship Award Winners

Alex Fryer (New Award)
Ashley County Lifelong Learning Center, Hamburg

Adil Ayadi (Extended)
Fayetteville Adult Education Center, Fayetteville Adil Ayadi

Jennifer Giannosa (Extended)
Ouachita Technical College Adult Ed., Malvern

2008 Dr. Luther H. Black Scholarship Award Winners

Fall 2008

Gwen Ables (Extended)
Ouachita Technical College Adult Ed., Malvern

Jennifer Giannosa (Extended)
Ouachita Technical College Adult Ed., Malvern

Spring 2009

Adil Ayadi (New Award)
Fayetteville Adult Education Center, Fayetteville

2007 Dr. Luther H. Black Scholarship Award Winners

Jacquelyn M. Patillo (Extended)
Southeast Arkansas Technical College Adult Ed., Pine Bluff

Jennifer Giannosa (Extended)
Ouachita Technical College Adult Ed., Malvern

Gwen Ables (New Award)
Ouachita Technical College Adult Ed., Malvern

The 2007 recipient of the Luther H. Black Memorial Scholarship is Mrs. Gwen Ables of Malvern Gwen earned her GED in 1987 but “had not pursued higher education because she thought that door was closed to me.” She describes herself as married with two children, and “a low income family.” The Ouachita Technical College Career Pathways staff members contacted her about their program, and she began to realize that she might have a chance to attend college. Gwen says, “It was like a miracle had occurred just for me, and I applied for the program.”

After some tutoring in math, Gwen enrolled in college and has maintained a GPA of 3.88-4.0 while majoring in pre-school through fourth grade education. Gwen also earned her WAGE employability certification, completed the Family Development Credential Training, serves on the Career Pathways Student Advisory Board, and on the Malvern Public School District Parental Advisory Board for Gifted and Talented students. Her entire family volunteers at the READ Literacy Council in Malvern and helped raise over $13,000 in 2006 to combat illiteracy in Hot Springs County.

Gwen states, “To this date, in my family, I will be the first to earn a college degree. I have inspired my husband to enter college, and he is currently working on a degree in computer network management. We are trying very hard to set a good example for our children because we don’t want them to go through the struggles and hardships that we have gone through because we didn’t go to college when we were younger.”

2006 Dr. Luther H. Black Scholarship Award Winners

Jennifer Giannosa (New Award)
Ouachita Technical College Adult Ed., Malvern

Jennifer Giannosa was the 2006 recipient of the Luther Black Memorial Scholarship. Jennifer enrolled in the Ouachita Technical College Adult Education Program through the Career Pathways Program and began work toward earning her GED in January 2006. After attending classes for a few months, Jennifer received her GED and completed the WAGE Employability Certificate and the Clerical Certificate. Jennifer is currently enrolled in classes at Ouachita Technical College and is actively pursuing an Associate of Arts in Teaching degree. A single mother of two young children, she is also a participant in the Even Start Program parenting classes.

Of her experience with the Ouachita Technical College Adult Education Program, Jennifer says, “I always dreaded the thought of going back to school and taking the GED test. In order to achieve my dreams, I had to overcome the fear of failure, so when I walked into Malvern’s Workforce Center to inquire about college, I was relieved to find such a great support system within the adult learning center. They helped me find my inner strength and gave me that extra ‘something’ I needed to make a positive change for my future. I am now stepping through doors I thought were locked forever. I have been given a gift of knowledge and I want to pass it on to our future generations. Someday.

Jacquelyn M. Patillo (Extended)
Southeast Arkansas Technical College, Pine Bluff

Carol Anne Hawley (Extended)
Shorter College Adult Ed. Program, North Little Rock

Dana Thompson (Extended)
UAM College of Technology-Crossett Adult Ed, Crossett

2005 Dr. Luther H. Black Scholarship Winners

Dana Thompson (New Award)
UAM College of Technology-Crossett Adult Ed, Crossett

A few well-placed words of encouragement have changed the life of a Crossett woman. Dana Thompson, a 27-year-old wife and mother, was awarded a 2005 Dr. Luther H. Black Scholarship, presented by the Arkansas Association for Continuing and Adult Education (AACAE) at its 2005 Fall Conference in Little Rock. Thompson earned her General Educational Development (GED) credential, the Arkansas High School Diploma, through the UAM College of Technology-Crossett (UAM-CTC) Adult Education Program. Mrs. Thompson began GED classes at UAM College of Technology-Crossett in the spring of 2004. Within a very few months, she earned her GED and graduated in June 2004. According to Dana, her GED teachers inspired her beyond any expectations she had ever imagined for herself. Although she was not financially prepared to immediately begin college classes, she was able to enter the University of Arkansas at Monticello in the spring of 2004. To her own great surprise, she began to do well academically €“ surpassing other classmates whom she surmised were “smart.” According to Dana, she began making B’s and then A’s€¦. each good grade fueling her to work and study even harder. “Making good grades became almost like a drug€¦. I get a ‘high’ that I have never before experienced. My mom says that I’m an ‘education pusher’ now,” says Thompson with a glowing smile. Making the Spring 2005 Chancellor’s List evidences her dedication and her potential for success.

Mrs. Thompson became familiar with the GED program at UAM-CTC when her husband earned his GED a few years ago. In his youth, Mr. Thompson was one of our “rowdy 16-year-old” students according to the GED teachers. After maturing, he returned with the serious appreciation for education and getting his GED and quickly earned his Arkansas High School Diploma. It was during this time that Dana attempted the GED program and found her math skills to be seriously lacking. Embarrassed, she quit a pattern with which she was becoming accustomed. After having a child of her own and wanting to set a good example for completing high school, Dana swallowed her pride and came back to GED classes. Her life turned around, she says, when Kathy Martin, one of her GED teachers, told her she was intelligent. “Never in my life had anyone ever said that to me,” Dana professes with appreciative tears welling. “That statement completely changed my life.” Another GED teacher, Remona Bishop, impressed Dana with her efforts to retain students who began the GED program and seemingly vanished from the face of the earth. “I saw Mrs. Bishop chase down a boy in WAL*MART and beg him to come back to class,” Dana remembers. “That young man did come back, and he graduated with honors in my class last year. Mrs. Bishop’s persistence showed me that my teachers truly care about their students.”

In accepting the scholarship, Thompson addressed an audience of over 350 adult educators, state administrators, her family, and Senator Shane Broadway, who later lauded Thompson for her accomplishments. She expressed her appreciation to the professional organization and the Luther Black Scholarship Committee for the award and credited the UAM-CTC adult education staff with turning her life around.

Carol Anne Hawley (New Award)
Shorter College Adult Ed. Program, North Little Rock

Carol Anne Hawley, a GED graduate of the Shorter College Adult Education Program in North Little Rock, was awarded the 2005 Dr. Luther Black Memorial Scholarship, presented by the Arkansas Association for Continuing and Adult Education (AACAE) at its annual fall conference in Little Rock.

Hawley was home schooled by her parents, an arrangement that worked well for over ten years, according to her. “When we got to the point where I needed to learn algebra, I just didn’t get it,” she professed. “I decided I would go to public school and work really hard to earn some kind of scholarship so I could go on to college. But before I actually started the public school classes, I changed my mind and asked my parents if I could go to a GED program.” Understanding that she had some fear of the social impact of attending a large public school, her parents supported her decision. In January 2005, sixteen-year- old Hawley began her GED studies at Shorter College. “My teachers at Shorter were wonderful! They taught me to do algebra which was a big step for me. And I had never in my life written an essay. It’s a testimony to what a good job the teachers did since I wrote an essay for Luther Black Scholarship.” On February29, 2005, Hawley earned her GED. She stayed in the adult education program at Shorter and volunteered her time as a math tutor. She also participated in a Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program where her case manager, Ms. Dorine Smith, referred her for a secretarial position at North Little West Campus High School. Hawley was offered and accepted that job in June, with the understanding that her work schedule could be arranged around her fall college class schedule.

In August, Hawley enrolled in Pulaski Technical College with plans to finish general education courses there and later transfer to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to major in forensic science. Of her adult education experiences she says, “I can’t thank my teachers and sponsors at Shorter enough. I may have had an algebra problem when I started there, but I now have a 96% average in College Algebra. I didn’t even have to take Introductory or Intermediate Algebra thanks to what I learned in GED classes.”

Hawley accepted her scholarship award from Dr. Black’s brother, Lloyd Black, before an audience of near 300 adult educators, state administrators, and guests at the AACAE awards banquet. With great pride and emotion, Mr. Black read the following inscription from the award certificate, “This scholarship was established to honor Dr. Luther H. Black, the ‘Father of Adult Education’ for his years of dedicated and committed service to Arkansas Adult Education. Dr. Black retired in 1987 after serving 22 years as Manager of Adult Education for the state. He served under six governors and helped the adult education program grow from one office to programs in almost every county in Arkansas. Dr. Black was praised for having an unconditional positive regard for his fellow man.” Mr. Black further commented that his brother would be pleased to see that young people are still continuing to benefit from his labors.

2004 Dr. Luther H. Black Scholarship Winners

Ruby Johnson (Extended)
UAM College of Technology-Crossett Adult Ed., Crossett

2003 Dr. Luther H. Black Scholarship Winners

Ruby Johnson
UAM College of Technology-Crossett Adult Ed., Crossett

At the Arkansas Association for Adult and Continuing Education’s annual conference in Hot Springs, the Luther H. Black Scholarship Committee awarded a $1,000 scholarship to Mrs. Ruby Johnson of Crossett. Johnson was chosen from nine applicants statewide to receive the prestigious award. Scholarship award priority is given to education majors; Johnson is an education major at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

Johnson was recommended for the scholarship by the UAM College of Technology-Crossett Adult Education Program staff. In the summer of 2002, Johnson enrolled in the then Forest Echoes Technical Institute’s Adult Education Program. Johnson expressed an urgent and burning desire to obtain her GED. She stated that she had raised five children as a single parent. She was totally dedicated to making sure that all her children graduated from high school. Then, when her youngest child finished high school, she said, “Now it’s my time to get the education that I have so wanted for years.”

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Arkansas Adult Learning Resource Center | 801 Louisiana Street Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone (501) 907-2490 | Email