Toyota’s Scholars Day celebrates college-bound seniors with $1 million in scholarships

by David Buice, Special Contributor | July 2, 2019

Da’vante Miller was in elementary school when Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans and surrounding areas. One of hundreds of families to seek “last resort” refuge in the Louisiana Superdome, Miller and his family were helicoptered to Texas, eventually settling in Frisco to rebuild their lives.

Now 19 years old, Miller has embarked on another journey: college. And he’s optimistic about his future.

“I know college will take me somewhere positive. I want to be something that I can show the whole world and make my mom and my family proud,” Miller said at Toyota’s North American Headquarters in Plano. 

Miller was at Toyota on June 11 to celebrate Toyota’s Scholars Day, which marked the company’s twelfth year providing $1 million in merit- and need-based scholarships to 100 deserving students across the U.S. Miller, who just completed his first year at Collin Community College, was one of the scholarship recipients. 

“This scholarship will help me reach my full potential and make a positive transition into my adult life,” Miller said, adding that he aspires to open his own business and “create opportunities for as many people as I can.”

Since its inception, Toyota has awarded this scholarship to 1,400 college-bound high school seniors and others. Students are selected based on a combination of financial need and academic achievement, along with a demonstrated dedication to community service. In addition, all recipients participated in youth development programs sponsored by Toyota, and many belong to local Boys and Girls Clubs of America in their communities. Scholarship support ranges from $1,250 to $5,000 annually for four years, totaling $5,000 to $20,000 for post-secondary education.

“Through these scholarships, and the many others we support across the nation, we can help students reach their education and career goals,” said Al Smith, group vice president, Toyota Social Innovation. “This program represents an important piece of our overall commitment to creating opportunities for youth and investing in their development.”

As part of the Scholars Day celebration on June 11, scholarship recipients met with their Toyota mentors, attended collegiate information sessions and toured the company’s new offices. Topping off the day, each recipient was surprised with a backpack filled with school supplies, along with a new laptop.

Scholarship winner Victoria Taylor of Dallas said the Scholars Day event made her feel truly supported. 

“The Toyota scholarship means a lot, because it reduces the financial burden on my family,” she said. “And it’s not just the money — it’s being here at this event where they’re celebrating each of us and helping us prepare for the next stage in our life.” 

Like the other students, Taylor’s dedication to community service is impressive. The 17-year-old is a member of the Girl Scouts, where she helped start an organization called SEED (Sisters Encouraging and Embracing Diversity) to host forums for girls between the ages of 13 and 18 to discuss topics like self-worth. 

Taylor will be attending the University of New England in Maine to major in Pharmacology. After completing her six-year program, she’ll graduate with a doctorate degree and she hopes to become a clinical pharmacist. 

The following are the names and hometowns of Toyota’s 2019 Scholars Day scholarship recipients in North Texas and the colleges or universities they will attend.

  • Anita Adhikari, Dallas, Texas Woman’s University
  • Morgan Andrulis, Irving University of Michigan
  • Lauren Arnott, Dallas, New York University
  • Adaeze Atumah, Garland, Adams State University
  • Mohamed Bare, Dallas, University of North Texas Dallas
  • Kennedy Beavers, Dallas, Houston Baptist University
  • Huda Bhatti, Murphy, University of Texas at Arlington
  • Sarah Bowles, Plano, Austin College
  • Kelleigh Brooks, Flower Mound, McMurry University
  • Dajah Dickerson, Frisco, Tyler Junior College
  • Sophia Falies, Richardson, Louisiana Tech University
  • Clarissa Fuentes, Rowlett, University of Texas at Dallas
  • Julia Griffin, Dallas, Texas Christian University
  • Rooha Hagharmehdiabadi, Rowlett, Stanford University
  • Kayla Hendereson, Frisco, Tyler Junior College
  • Jamicheal Hooks, Plano, Texas A&M University-Galveston
  • Angela Jimenez, Dallas, University of Dallas
  • Josephine Kalondji, Dallas, Texas A&M University
  • Divya Lal Lal, Dallas, University of North Texas
  • Hep Ma, Garland, Texas A&M University – Commerce
  • Avery McCarty, Rowlett, Texas Woman’s University
  • Catherine Meenan, Irving, University of Oklahoma
  • Da’Vante Miller, Frisco, Collin County Community College
  • Michella Miller, Plano, Richland College
  • Leidy Morales, Dallas, University of North Texas
  • Than Zaw Oo, Dallas, University of Texas at Arlington
  • Patricia Ortiz, Dallas, University of Oklahoma
  • Jennifer Park, Flower Mound, University of Texas at Austin
  • Sunita Pradhan, Dallas, Texas Woman’s University
  • Dylan Reed, McKinney, Collin County Community College
  • Shandrieka Ross, McKinney, Prairie View A&M University
  • Devion Rucker, Frisco, Tyler Junior College
  • Heriberto Saavedra Tinoco, Frisco, Collin County Community College
  • Maria Sanchez, Plano, University of Texas at Dallas
  • Chloe Schraeder, Carrollton, University of Texas at Austin
  • Xiomara Segovia, Wilmer, Lamar University
  • Naj-Ja Sherman, McKinney, Texas A&M University – Commerce
  • Victoria Taylor, DeSoto, University of New England
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