In 2000, the Alabama Affordable Housing Association (AAHA) created a scholarship program for residents of member-owned apartment properties in Alabama. The scholarship funds are donated by the owners, contractors, architects, accountants, property management companies, investors, lenders, developers, and various vendors that make up AAHA's membership as well as other non-member individuals. Since its inception, the AAHA resident scholarship fund has awarded more than $500,000 in scholarships.
Sisters Blakely and Maggie, along with mother Dixie Maxwell, are a tight-knit family. Maxwell, manager of Beverlye Crossings I in Dothan - an AHFA-financed development - has always emphasized the importance of a college education to her daughters. So she encouraged both of them to apply for resident scholarships through AAHA when the time came.
Blakely, 20, is in her third year as a scholarship recipient. She attends Troy University and is pursuing a degree in elementary education. She said college was an adjustment from her time at Dothan High School. "I feel like I didn't really have to study in high school. It was just kind of easy for me," she said. "Freshman year of college was a big wake-up call. You really have to study a lot more." She has since found her stride and hopes to teach kindergarten through second grade.
Eighteen-year-old Maggie, a dual enrollment student who is just five credits shy of being a sophomore, is charting a different course. Her scholarship will help pay for semesters at Wallace Community College in Dothan before she transfers to Troy University to pursue a nursing degree. But first, inspired by a father with a military background, she will attend Army National Guard basic combat training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
A testament to the job Maxwell has done as a single mother, the LaVorgna sisters see their scholarship success more as an accomplishment for her than for themselves.
"No one in our family has a college degree," said Maggie. "Our mom was fortunate to get a well-paying job with Hall Housing, but she pounded it in our heads to get a college degree."
Blakely added, "There has always been a question not of IF we are going to college, but HOW were we going to do it. This really gives us an opportunity to do that. It is a big help to our mom."
In addition to the scholarship funds awarded by AAHA, Maggie was named a 2017 recipient of a Jack Godin, Jr. scholarship from the national Council for Affordable and Rural Housing. The CARH scholarship provides Maggie an additional $1,500 per semester for up to four years.
For more information about the resident scholarship program, please contact Arrice Faught, AAHA's executive director at [email protected] or 205.331.8668.