Scholarships from The Firebirds, the New Haven chapter of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters, will help six New Haven high school students pursue a diverse set of interests at colleges across the nation.
The Firebirds awarded four $500 and two $1,000 scholarships to New Haven high school students at a ceremony Tuesday at City Hall. Mayor Toni Harp and Firebirds President William Augustine made short remarks from a podium in the second-floor atrium before calling students up to receive their scholarships. City Fire Chief John Alston and City Chief Administrative Officer Mike Carter also attended the ceremony.
Receipient Doug Wardlaw, a graduate of the Hopkins School and son of Firebirds Vice President Douglas Wardlaw, said he plans to major in economics and minor in political science at Union College, where he will start in the fall. He told the Independent he hopes to work in the business or finance world after graduating, perhaps in New York City.
“I want to create new things and help people,” he said.
Gerald Mallison, who graduated from the Metropolitan Business Academy in the spring, said he hopes studying political science in college will lead to a career in government. He said he wants to work in city government initially, but he would consider working for the federal government in the future.
Mallison, who will attend D.C.-based Howard University in the fall, will have an excellent opportunity to see the federal government in action over the next four years.
Unlike Doug Wardlaw and Mallison, J’Nise Polite said she plans to study the hard sciences in college. Polite, a graduate of Co-op High School who will attend the University of New Haven, hopes to major in biology and to work in a research lab after she graduates.
Polite said she also harbors a love for theater, which she said has helped her “break out of her shell.” She said she wrote about acting and its impact on her life in her application for the scholarship.
Three other New Haven high schoolers, Rebecca Wilson, Cameron Jenkins and Sarah Sawasawa, also received scholarships, according to Augustine. Wilson, Jenkins and Sawasawa did not attend Monday’s ceremony, but Jenkins’ mother participated in the ceremony in her son’s stead.
Augustine said Sawasawa and Jenkins will attend Gateway Community College and Delaware State University respectively. He said Wilson has not yet told the Firebirds where she will attend college.
Augustine said students are selected for scholarships by his organization based on their commitment to New Haven, their grades and how they plan to use their college education. He added that the Firebirds only consider applicants with above a 2.0 GPA who went to a high school in New Haven and who are New Haven residents, and that the Firebirds read through applications and pick finalists all together. For this year’s scholarships, 24 students applied in total, according to Augustine.
Douglas Wardlaw said three of the scholarships are named after the Firebirds organization and that the other three are named after George Sweeney, the first blind black firefighter in the New Haven Fire Department.