SCHENECTADY — While Schenectady High School already celebrated its Class of 2021 seniors in June, two recent graduates picked up another honor in memory of a 2020 graduate on a cool Thursday night in August.
Keziah Breedlove and Sabina Monroe were welcomed to the home of Sondra Banks, who has started a scholarship program in memory of her son Naylon Carrington. A 2020 Schenectady High School graduate and student-athlete, Carrington was killed in an auto accident several months after graduating.
Jeremiah Davis was the inaugural winner of the $500 scholarship award in July, while Breedlove and Monroe were the latest recipients of a Naylon Carrington Project Foundation Scholarship Award.
Banks and her daughter Ceniya Fountain were part of a committee that reviewed the scholarship applications and poured over each entrant’s submitted essay.
“We wanted these seniors thinking about their future and thinking about some of the obstacles and things that could happen on their way to college, what would be some of the challenges they would face,” Banks said.
The request wasn’t easy for the two recipients.
“The most challenging part was finding the right words and making sure that it was perfect, that’s just how I am,” Breedlove said, who will attend Maria College in Albany as a nursing major.
She was overwhelmed when notified by Banks of her award.
“I was crying. I couldn’t believe it,” Breedlove said. “There were so many people who filled out an essay and the fact that Sondra reached out to me, I won, I wasn’t expecting it.”
Monroe had to look inside herself when completing the essay.
“It was more of a personal essay about facing adversity and writing about my own personal growth and feats,” Monroe said. “I wanted to make it more like a journal than an essay. I was trying to be genuine.”
Monroe, who will study through the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, saw her perseverance pay off within her essay.
“I filled out tons and tons of scholarship [applications] online and for the school,” Monroe said. “Sadly, I didn’t [previously] get any. The fact that I got this scholarship made me extremely proud.”
Establishing the scholarship award has helped the family members cope with the loss of Carrington.
“I think it helped a lot,” Fountain said. “I know what kind of person my brother was. To do something this special and this heartfelt . . . helped because I know that he’s happy. School was his thing, so I know he would be proud.”
An official presentation of the awards will be made to Breedlove and Monroe on Sunday at 5 p.m. prior to the championship game of the JMAC Stop the Violence Movement basketball tournament at Central Park.