Past Recipients

Class of 2019-2020

    On August 14th of 2020 – I was terrified. It was move in day for the University of Georgia and, as a freshly graduated high school student, I was completely and utterly unprepared. I had applied as a Pharmaceutical Sciences major yet had already changed my major to Engineering, so I was feeling especially unsure about my future.  Regardless, along my side were my four parents and younger sister, while my brothers attended school. Having them with me made it easier, but when time rolled around for them to leave, I was hysterical. My family has been with me since, literally, day one and been my haven away from the world. I had no clue how to survive without them, frankly
I still don’t.
    Through my first semester, I struggled. There were so many changes in such a short time. It all became too much to handle. I lost my footing in classes and felt eternally isolated from my friends and family. College was quickly becoming something that I couldn’t handle. I felt inadequate. It was a problem, so I knew I needed to spend time
evaluating solutions. For a few months, there was no improvement. In terms of schoolwork, I continued to try new study methods and look for ways to improve my grades as well as my mental health. Being away from everything I had known and everyone I cared about was rough. I had really good days and really bad days. The sun would rise to lift my spirit, but then a dark cloud would drag me back down. It was like a rollercoaster, but much less fun.
     Coming into my second semester, I am humbled to look back and see God through the hardships. I have actively felt the most growth from this past semester. Being away from my home and stability wasn’t just a hardship; it was heart-wrenching, but it was also a blessing. This new experience has been most challenging. Struggling has been tough and I know there are many more trials to face in life, but I am beyond grateful for this experience. It has enabled me to actively become firm in my beliefs and take every problem one-at-a-time without feeling like I’m growing “too slow”.
     I attribute the time I have had to grow myself to Shaylin. As a younger girl, I looked up to her because of the light and joy she always held. She knew a secret to life and her spirit lifted others up. Her example pushes me to explore who I am and how to be the best me I can. I want to be the person God put me on this earth to be and Shaylin is an inspiration in this. I want to hold her compassion, love, and spirit with me as I
grow because those are the best traits anyone could have.
     Life isn’t as easy as I would like it to be, but there is purpose to that. God has a plan and I just have to let Him show me as we go. I thank Him for the blessings that Shay and her family have touched so many people with and am honored to have such a gift.

Trinity Taylor

Class of 2018-2019

Hannah Alva

    I will be attending Georgia Southern University to major in exercise science, and I plan on earning a master’s degree in Sports Medicine in hopes to become an athletic trainer after graduation. This scholarship has reduced the amount of stress on not only myself but my mother as well, allowing me to focus more on my studies than anything else. I would like to think I was nominated because I exemplified traits of kindness, compassion and empathy within my school and community. Showing others how we should be treating one another in our short time here.

     Kindness, compassion, and empathy mean everything to me. To be kind to one another is the first step to build a relationship. Then you must listen, in order to understand. In church we are taught that the way to be a good Christian is to listen more than you speak. That the lord gave you two ears and eyes, but only one mouth so use them the way they were intended to be used.  After you learn their story and about how their walk through life has been through the years you can then begin to empathize with them, configuring a way to relate, in turn sharing your own story. People who share these traits see the world in a more beautiful way. They see a world, not only from their own perspective but the perspective of others as well.

    I believe that God turns tragedies into blessings. Speaking to Mrs. Foster while on our mission trip to Belize this statement became true right in front of me. In Shaylin’s passing her brightness has continued to shine through everyone she had ever come into contact with and then some. Though I never had the opportunity to meet Shaylin I feel as though I know so much about her just by speaking to her family and friends and seeing her in both Mr. and Mrs. foster who embody her presence daily. Her legacy moves on through them. Her light has transcended through her family’s actions and her community’s as well. From creating such beautiful programs and amazing scholarships that have a deep meaning in Shaylin’s name to the community that knew her bringing people closer to their faith, something Shaylin was passionate about. Our community coming together after such tragedy changed my life in every way. Both physically and spiritually. God turned a tragedy into a phenomenal blessing.

Class of 2017-2018

For the first year that we awarded this scholarship in Shaylin's honor we decided to recognize two amazing Warriors.

    I am attending college at the University of Georgia and I am studying Political Science with the intent to go to law school, and I am hoping to specialize in constitutional law. I am planning becoming an Appellate Court Lawyer. The University of Georgia has always been my dream school, and this scholarship in Shaylin’s honor has helped me to focus on the more important things as opposed to worrying about finances.

    It was so meaningful to receive this scholarship in memory of such a beautiful soul because just the year before, I lost a close friend and cousin, Stormy Byrd, in a tragic car accident. Although the pain of losing a loved one never goes away, I celebrated the life she lived as much as I could. When Shaylin passed away, the parts about Stormy I loved the most came out of me and allowed me to help others through the terrible loss of one of the kindest people.

    A simple act of kindness can inspire the individual receiving the act to spread more kind nature. Compassion can change someone’s day. The saying that you “never know what someone else is going through on a daily basis” is so true, and it’s important to take that into account. Empathy is an important quality because it allows you to identify with others, not only in their successes and happiness but also throughout their struggles and pain. Kindness, compassion, and empathy are three traits our classmate Shaylin Foster demonstrated avidly. I do hope that this memorial scholarship, along with the strong impact she made upon our school, continues to inspire people who hear her story to be as kind, compassionate, and empathetic as she was.

Quinn Shelt

Quinn Shelt

Taylor Morris

Taylor Morris

    Two weeks before Christmas 2017 I was at the mall getting a present for my parents when I heard someone say my name. When I finally saw shay she had a bright smile full of pure joy and happiness. Shay ran up to me and gave me a hug and we talked for a while, we walked around and got presents for our parents and just hung out for a little. If I had known that would be the last time I saw her I would have stayed longer, I would have talked more, I would have just spent as much time with her as I could. Shay radiated happiness, she cared for everyone, she was the most loving and selfless person I knew. The whole time we were together she talked about her parents and her love for them. She talked about her brothers and how silly and fun they were, and how much she loved them. Family was the most important thing to Shay, and I can only hope to spread the amount of love and joy as she did. Everyday I strive to follow her example and be someone Shay would be proud to call a friend. 

    I am currently going to school for Criminal Justice and plan to pursue a career in Law Enforcement, hopefully being a positive role model in a career field that is often viewed negatively. The scholarship helped me by bringing my tuition fees down so I can focus more on making good grades then worrying about school costs. 

    Shaylin’s award serves as a reminder to me every day to be a more caring and compassionate person to others. It reminds me of the amazing girl behind it, and the love she had for everyone she met. I think I was nominated because I care for others much like Shaylin did. I hate to see people hurting and try to help in anyway I possibly can. I always have a smile on my face and try to be a positive light in a world that often spreads negativity. 

    Kindness means going out of your way to make someone’s day better and to make a life that is already complicated, a little easier. Compassion means showing someone they aren’t alone, that they have someone they can turn to in times of need. Empathy means showing them you care, listening when they need a friend and putting your needs above theirs. To me kindness, compassion and empathy means being there for everyone all the time. These traits are important to me, because not many people stop to help or care, and everyone deserves a little sunshine in their lives.

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