Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund ģ   
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In Their Own Words
Students talk about the Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund

Dear Ms. Kay and Steve:

I would like to take a moment to thank you for all of your help with my college experience. I believe that if this organization did not exist, there would have been of number of high school graduates in the metropolitan area who would have never been given the opportunity to further their education due to financial reasons. I would have likely been in that same position, but thank to Hoop Dreams, I am grateful. In 1999, when I graduated from high school, my mother was not working and my father was receiving disability, so you can only imagine what my family's household income was. There was no way that my parents would have been able to afford my college expenses.

The Hoop Dreams Organization helped me achieve my dreams of going to college and getting a degree in Computer Science/Information Systems, SAT Preparation, and a great mentor (Julie Posey). I will always be grateful and as a sign of appreciation, enclosed is a check in the amount of $150. I wish so badly that I was in the position to give more than this, but hopefully I will be able to do that next year. Maybe this can help a student with purchasing some of their books. Again many thanks, for all of your help and I look forward to seeing you guys again soon.


Nakeisha Lewis


Leonsis Scholar Says "Thank You"

Mr. Leonsis,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for believing in me and helping me make my college experience a success. Words can not express how much I appreciate your generous contribution towards my education. I truly value your financial and emotional support.

Going to college is an exciting experience that I will never forget. Because of your kind heart, I was able to go to college and focus on my classes which allowed me to receive the National Dean's List Award twice and an All-American Scholar Award. In many ways I felt stress free because I didn't have to worry about how my parents would pay for the next semester. Your financial and emotional support played a huge role in my education.

It felt good to have someone believing in me and encouraging me along the way. You are truly an inspiration. Once again, please except my heartfelt thanks for helping me make my college experience such a success.

Many Thanks,

Nakeisha Lewis
Hoop Dream/Leonsis Scholar
Class of 1999

January 3, 2003

Tournament Tribute

As one of the original members of Miss Kayís Hoop Dreams crew, it is my great pleasure to be here today to represent the Hoop Dreams graduates.  What began as a one-day, one-time basketball tourney has grown into a year-round college prep program.  Today, Hoop Dreams is doing three times as much, and I am delighted to see that the energy and spirit that made that initial event so special has grown as well.

I know first hand that Hoops Dreams is much more than scholarships.  I launched the Hoop Dreams internship program with an internship at NBC4, which gave me valuable work experience and the opportunity to work with great people like Wally Bruckner.  My internship confirmed for me that my dream of career in broadcasting was the right path for me.  While I came to Hoop Dreams with a career goal, for many other students the Hoops Dreams internship program is opening up academic and career avenues they had never before thought of.

I was also fortunate to have been paired with a mentor who awed me as a high school student and continues to inspire me today Ė Dori Silverman of Coca-Cola.  Our relationship went far beyond that of mentoring, Dori established a scholarship in Miss Kayís name for students who attend American University, of which I was a recipient for the past three years.  I am proud to say that today Miss Kay and I share the connection of being AU alumni.

 After the terrible events of September 11, people all across the country are looking for ways to connect with people in their community.  Hoop Dreams demonstrates that by making a small connection you can have a big impact.  By connecting high school students with Washington professionals, Hoops dreams and its dedicated volunteers and supports is provided hundreds of students with the incentive and focus to go to college and make their dreams a reality.

With the love and support of my family and the on-going interest and backing of Hoop Dreams, I am proud to say that I am making my dreams come true.  Earlier this month I graduated from American with a degree in journalism and I have accepted a position with the NBC affiliate in Charlotte as an associate producer.

I am but one Hoop Dreams success story.  I would like to take this opportunity to do a roll call of this yearís Hoop Dreams college graduates:

Douglas Johnson, Clarka Atlanta
Andrea McCauley, Susquhenna
Nick Dortch, Virginia State
Nicola Jones, Clark Atlanta
Tawanna Terry, Howard University
William Thomas, South Carolina State
Amilia Douglas, Lincoln University
Delan Johnson, Southeastern University
Briona Brown, Bowie State
Lonnell Wilson, Fayetteville State
Shynetra Whitmeyer, Southeastern University
Inga Holston, Virginia Union

On behalf of all the Hoop Dreams students and graduates, thank you for coming out today to support this important program that really is changing lives.

Kerwin Speight
Hoop Dreams Scholarship Recipient 1998
American University Class of 2002
Remarks before 2002 Hoop Dreams Charity Basketball Tournament

June 8, 2002

Thank you Miss Kay

If someone were to ask me what would be the first thing to come to my mind when I think about Miss Susie Kay, I would say that she is one of the most compassionate and caring persons that I have every met. While attending H.D. Woodson senior high school, I was first introduced to this lady of high energy and spunk. She was different in that she always challenged us so that we could reach our highest potential. She taught, nurtured, and helped mold me into the person that I am today. Her love for humanity is remarkable. It is something to be admired. She believes in me and she never belittles me. Hoop Dreams is not just a money machine. I donít look at Miss Kay as just a person sitting in an office writing checks or handing out money. As time progressed, I not only viewed her as my teacher, but I consider her to be my friend. Within her heart she sincerely cares about not only my individual future but for all of her more than 300 students who she has helped send to college. We are indeed her children.

I guess I could experience first hand the benefits of this organization because I had the privilege of working as an intern for the Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund. I could really see the sweat, tears, and hard work that go into this program. Thatís why itís so important to me that YOU understand how important it is for Ms. Kay to continue in her endeavor to raise scholarships for students who want to attain a higher education. The Hoop Dreams staff is like my family. Whenever I have a problem about anything, I know that they will be there. I felt like I was earning my own scholarship. Miss Kay works day and night, literally staying up to 3:00 in the morning, always searching for ways to benefit us, her children, whether it is searching to find us mentors, internships, or finding out ways to help increase our SAT scores.

Itís so important for Miss Kay to continue to raise money not only for me but also for other students to attend college because we are the future. Who will be the next CEOís, the next mayors, administrative assistants, and doctors? It will be us, the children who are often referred to as generation X. But, we are not generation X, because we have people like Miss Kay who care enough and work hard enough to ensure that we have the best education that we can possibly have. Even if she didnít have not one person to support her, she would go on. She would do it by herself and has done it by herself, because she believes that much in us. When I graduated, and walked across that stage, Miss Kay was there and her warm embrace made me come to realize that it was all worth it. The 12 long years of hard work had finally paid off, and now it was time for step two in my development. But I know that I wonít be alone, because I have my parents who have laid a strong foundation in me and I have people like Miss Kay who support me 100%. This is a real organization with real people who havenít given up on the future generation and I hope that it will stay around for the next generation to come.

Warmest regards and sincere gratitude,
Amber Juachine Lofton
Hoop Dreams 2000 Scholarship Recipient

August 14, 2000

Nothing Compares to Hoop Dreams

Dear Miss Kay,

Recently, I was glancing over some photos in Primeshot.com and I noticed something about some of them. Some of these photos include images from the Congressional Reception, the Spring Gala, and the 3-on-3 basketball tournament which were all a total success. Then, I saw the picture of you standing over the podium during the Congressional Reception. You had this motionless, yet content smile over your face. What exactly were you thinking? But, I shouldnít be asking this question because I already know. No, WE already know!

That appeased smile on your face not only symbolized your success with this organization, the amount of money we raised towards scholarships, or the endless partnerships weíve obtained, but also it showed the feat that you, no, WE were actually trying to accomplish: the ability to connect students within from D.C. Public Schools to the professional world. Itís pretty pitiful to know that a student residing within the District doesnít know whatís actually happening in this city, or supposedly in the nationís capital. Hoop Dreams helped form these unstable bridges.

The mentoring program is undoubtedly the best program that has alleviated the skepticism most of us felt about that notion that "thereís really no one in this city that truly cares about us." These were actually professionals who have been exposed to multi-faceted experiences, both throughout college and the business community. They wanted to know what we were actually feeling. They wanted to become a part of our lives. This program is undoubtedly the best possible way for anyone to mature into a truly successful person. Why arenít there more programs like this one?

Of course, you know the Princeton Review has contributed to the admission of Hoop Dreams students into most of our desired colleges. Did you know the average SAT score for African-Americans within the District is 790 (math and verbal combined). How does anyone expect to receive a solid education when colleges are becoming more and more selective? With the rapid increase in scores from the students within the Princeton Review, the trend will at least simmer down in our school. Iíve seen studentsí scores jump up by 250 points combined. Way to go, Ms. Kay!
There really isnít anyone with as much energy and spunk as you, Ms. Kay (considering that youíre only 4 feet tall). You prowled down countless CEOs, CFOs, and other top executives just for US. On top of that, youíre a teacher! What a heck of a job! You already know that we will do anything to help make this organization bigger and better. We will become the Coca-Cola of scholarships! We will create the future business leaders of tomorrow! We will receive some type of national laureate award (I think Iím sounding too much like you!) By the way, you will be receiving my mailing address from the Rochester Institute of Technology, along with my posse, Dana and Wendell. Feel free to contact me through email, mannypeek@yahoo.com (donít ask about the name), or at my home phone number.
Because of your warmth and congeniality, I will leave you with a verse from Sinead OíConnorís hit single from years ago. "Nothing compares....nothing compares....to YOU!" Have many more fruitful years!

Your Friend,
Kelvin Peek

Excerpts from letters by Hoop Dreams Scholars:

"Before I was exposed to Hoop Dreams, I really didnít believe that I would be able to go to school once the reality of tuition set in. I felt as though I always made nothing less than excellent grades and yet I still seemed to get penalized for not being rich. I received a few other scholarships for my first year of college, which made it a breeze. However, my second year and the beginning of my third year have not been as fortunate. I am not at the top of my class as I was in high school, but Hoop Dreams realized this and STILL supported me. Hoop Dreams has changed my life in more ways than I can put to words. I am truly blessed to have people like you in my corner! Thank you very much for supporting me."

-Briona Brown, Bowie University

"Life has been a great learning experience for me so far, and Iím just getting started. As a full-time mother with a full-time job, finding money and time to further my education has been a great feat for me. Even with this obstacle, I had to continue to believe that one day something would come through for me and everything would fall into place.

Suddenly, everything has started to turn around for me. I am now in the process of changing jobs and, hopefully, my career. Even better, YOU have allowed me to make one of my dreams a reality. Iím not sure at this time where my post-secondary education will lead me, but Iím positive that it will land me in a profession that will ensure me happiness and success. Thank you for making it all possible."

-Ivy Inman, University of Maryland

"Although Hoop Dreams has been of great assistance in my educational pursuit to happiness, the credit is all focused on one very special individual, Ms. Susie Kay. I know she could not have done it without the help of others, but when you think of founding fathers and who shaped Washington, DC into the nationís capital you can not help but to equate Ms. Kay with them. As I matured over the years at H.D. Woodson, Ms. Kay gave her students nothing but the best. She made sure that we were knowledgeable of everything that pertains to government. However, Ms. Kay did not stop there. She had dreams and other plans for her children of tomorrow and thus sought out a scholarship program that would benefit all. This is known as Hoop Dreams.

-Nikolais Dortch, Virginia State

"I believe that Miss Kay began this program because she saw how hard it was for students to find money to attend and to stay in college. This program gave students the opportunity to gain college education and work experience through scholarship funds, mentoring, internships, and tutoring. I believe that God has sent her the task of filling the void that "Fannie Maeís Futures 500 Club" has left. In a way, I believe that this program is better than others because it comes from the heart and is for EVERYONE. A big, fancy corporation did not start the Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund, but a teacher who has personal relationships with the students and saw the trials that these students have to face everyday. Miss Kayís personal efforts are greatly appreciated because she went above and beyond her duty as a teacher."

-Brandi Hickman, Temple University

dot Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund, 800 K Street, NW, Suite 1100 South  Washington, DC 20001 202-414-4774