2021 Lifelong Learner Scholarship Award Recipients

In 2000, the Business Women’s Network of Howard County established the Lifelong Learner Scholarship Program to support Howard County women in reaching the next step in their careers or businesses. Since then, we have awarded over $80,000 in Scholarships. For 2021, we are awarding six outstanding Howard County women $1,500 each to embark on their next steps to success. Meet our 2021 awardees!

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Flavie Adja is a Patient Care Coordinator at University of Maryland Baltimore Medical Center and has been accepted into the highly competitive accelerated nursing program at Howard Community College. She co-founded Children Landcare Center International, which has helped many children, primarily in the Ivory Coast. She continues to volunteer and advocate for children’s organizations. Her ultimate goal would be to build clinics in poor areas of the world. Flavie is a single mother of six and knows that her educational goals not only set a good example for her children, but will provide much deserved financial freedom. 

"I’m very grateful and humbled of being a recipient of the Business Women’s Network award this year. As a woman with extensive experiences in leadership roles and, in between, being a mom of 6 children, I get sometimes some doubt about my journey of going back to school and finishing my education that will affect many areas of my life for the better. Since the day I have been notified by the BWN,I have been emboldened to believe in me and that I can do it. The scholarship will help me to be focused on the school work and my learning process that will get me to become an efficient nurse. Finishing my degree also will set an example for my kids to finish their education that will further them into fulfilling their purpose in life."

I" see myself getting closer of my goal which is building clinics in poorer places to help especially children become whole. Thanks for this opportunity." —Flavie

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Maria Acuna has long had a desire to be a teacher. She has Childhood Education Certificates and has been a Pre-School teacher (2-4 year olds) for the 11+ years. She wants to advance to the next level by earning her Bachelor’s Degree and then work for Howard County Schools as an elementary school teacher. She is a single mother of 3 children and very determined to make a better live for herself and her children.

"This scholarship means a lot to me, so when I got notified that I got selected to be a recipient of the Business Women’s Network scholarship, tears of joy came down my eyes. I felt so thankful and honored. Being a single parent and working a full-time job while trying to get a degree is a struggle, not just time wise, but financially as well. With my financial situation, I know that I can hardly afford college, but with the help of this scholarship and other funds, I will be able to continue to follow my dream and become an educator. I feel that I will be able to change children’s lives for good. Getting help like this does not only help people financially, but it gives you more motivation and pushes you to keep going, no matter what. I cannot wait for the day I earn my degree and become an example for my girls, letting them know that we are strong, and we can fight any obstacles in life. All we must do is try. Thanks again to the Business Women’s Network for this opportunity for helping me to achieve my goals!" — Maria A.

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Shani McFadden A single mother of two, one of whom struggles with unique health challenges, Shani has been in the nursing and medical assistance field for 8 years. After moments in which she was able to step in and help in emergency situations (such as saving an assisted living patient from choking to death), Shani realized that she wanted to continue her education to be a life saving instructor. She is currently enrolled in the TFC Lifesavers CPR Institute. Her ultimate goal is to open a training center where she can educate others in life saving skills.

"As a single mom of 2 kids who struggle with health issues I felt I had no choice but to become a medical professional. Being confident in caring for my children in their toughest moments was very important to me. 8yrs ago I became a nurse because I wanted to help and support not only my loved ones but also others in similar situations. After overcoming many different obstacles and helping others with threats to their health I then decided to continue my education in becoming a lifesavers instructor. As a Lifesavers instructor I am granted the opportunity to teach others the techniques that will aid in saving their loved ones."

"Being selected for the Business Women's Network scholarship is truly a BLESSING! A weight has been lifted off of my shoulders knowing that I have such generous support in my journey to saving as many lives as possible." — Shani

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Hannah Zimmerman is currently employed with the Howard County School System in the Black Student Achievement Program. As a liaison between school staff and black students and their families, she assists in the development and achievement of each student’s academic goals. A graduate of The Pennsylvania State University, she is passionate about working to ensure equity in the educational environment for all students. This passion has led to her desire to earn a Masters Degree in Social Work. After obtaining her degree, Hannah plans to return to the Howard County School System as a social worker and continue to work with underserved populations.

"I currently work for the Black Student Achievement Program (BSAP) in Howard County. BSAP is a program Howard County prides themself on, yet not providing sufficient funding to allow liaisons to realistically stay in the work. I work 70 hours a week between multiple jobs just to make ends meet but stay in this position to deliberately and personally address systemic racism."

"I will be able to continue to serve similar populations through a Master of Social Work. This career change will allow me to continue my life’s mission while earning a living wage. This scholarship gets me one step closer to my dream of becoming a school social worker, where I can continue to take action for our community and prioritize the voices and experiences of all people. I am proud to attribute the Business Women’s Network as being a part of this journey. Thank you BWN; your kindness propels people forward!" — Hannah

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LaTonya Frizelle is currently enrolled at Howard Community College and employed full time with the Howard County School System as a Special Education Para Educator. She plans to complete her college degree and pursue a master degree in education. LaTonya’s goal is to become a special education adaptive physical education teacher, a culmination of working with special needs students since 2013.

"I am truly honored to be a recipient of the BWN scholarship. When I received the congratulatory phone call I was ecstatic that I was chosen. This opportunity has given me financial reprieve from out of pocket expenses for education. I will be able to use the funds to take two to three courses and cover the appropriate materials required."

"My ultimate goal is to become an adapted physical education teacher, where I would instruct students with special needs in a physical education setting. Through God's grace and mercy I was chosen for this scholarship and I am I humbled. Being in this position will allow me to focus on maintaining my GPA (3.9) and less worry about financial aid. I am more than determined to finish what I have started and I am a firm believer that hard work can propel you toward success."

— La Tonya

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Sierra G was unable to work due to homeschooling her two children during Covid, but still found time to be a Volunteer Fire Fighter. She only has 2 semesters left to obtain her Degree in General Studies, with a Business Focus. Her goal is to obtain her business degree and open a hair salon that services children with Autism and their families. She wants to create a safe place for them to receive their haircuts and hairstyles. A place where everyone who comes in understands they are not alone and won’t feel judged when their child is having a behavior “moment”.

"I want to thank the Business Women’s Network so much for awarding me the BWN Scholarship. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to be receiving it this year. I honestly didn’t know how I would cover my next semester in school, but I know that I am truly blessed to be receiving the scholarship. I’m a single mother and I will be a first generation college graduate. Finishing college doesn’t just mean the world to me, it also means the world to my family as well. This past year helped me realize that being a full time student can be an extremely stressful journey by itself but when you add other challenges like being a parent, covid, virtual learning and the stress of how to pay for it all can be overwhelming. However, this scholarship puts me steps closer to that goal. Thank you again for investing in my future." — Sierra


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