“You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet,” followed by “Lord, You Are Awesome” could be heard in the street as the Greater St. John Bible Church Choir belted out to a packed house Friday evening.

Organized by Rev. Ira J. Acree, the concert honored scholarship winners from the city’s West Side. Each student, either a graduating high school senior or a student currently enrolled in college, was required to write a 500-word essay. The topic: How, upon obtaining their degree, would they come back and make a positive difference in their community?

Scholarship winner, Carla O’Neal, a
childhood development major, delayed her trip to Macomb to attend the concert.

“I believe that what happens in early childhood effects what kind of adult the child will become when they grow up,” she said of her essay.

Brian Murray, who will stay closer to home, attending Wilbur Wright College majoring in Criminal Justice, said his ultimate goal is to be police superintendent.

“I want to make the City of Chicago a better place to live,” he said.

In all, 25 students received scholarships. Most of the recipients attending out-of-state universities did not attend the concert because their classes had already begun. Their parents and grandparents, however, accepted the awards on their behalf.

But Acree was intent on the congregation to put faces to the winners’ names and incorporated a big screen that displayed a photo of each student as their name was called. Helping to distribute awards was Latasha Jones, assistant vice president of Midwest Bank, one of the sponsors of this year’s scholarship program.

Jones, a member of the Greater St. John Bible Church, 1256 N. Waller, said she was happy to help when approached with the idea of having the bank as a sponsor for the program.

“The church and the bank will collaborate on future endeavors as well,” she promised.

As name after name was called, the church erupted in support and encouragement, wishing the students much success on their academic journey that the program’s organizers hope would bring them back to their neighborhood.

Acree referred to the winners as “young Baracks in the house” and urged them to remember the bible verse: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” After presenting the awards, Acree announced he wanted to be back this time next year with more sponsors and more money to give to deserving students.

“All Illinois students deserve first-class funding,” he said, stressing that he didn’t want scholarships to be only for students considered at the very top of their class. “I want to encourage those who need a little help, not just those who are summa cum laude. George Bush was a C student, but look at him now.”

2008 College Scholarship Winners

Marcus Acree
Tyshawn Banks
Daniel Barnes
Sharlisa Brooks
Brittney Brown
Mashama Coger
Thristian Crittle
Gabrielle Gross
Terrell Hill
Ciara Jenkins
Juannakee Jones
Jasmine Kirk
Laquasha Logan
Levell Mables
Jessica Mallett
Brian Murray
Carla O'Neal
Stacy Oseideko
Di'Angelo Reed
Lisa Richardson
Andre Smith
Eric Stevenson
Tiesha Trotter
Darius Walker
Aiesha Woolridge