The Chester Housing Authority awarded two $1,000 scholarships to city residents during a June 15 luncheon at the Red Brick Café, located in the authority’s William Penn Homes. Rachael Peterkin and Latisha Cunningham each received the Making A Difference scholarship through the Chester Housing Initiatives Inc., a nonprofit subsidiary of CHA.
The M.A.D. scholarship was founded in 2019 to assist college-enrolled residents who show strong academic success and involvement in extracurricular activities. This year’s ceremony marked the second in-person presentation as COVID-19 restrictions lifted.
Peterkin, a senior at Archbishop Carroll High School, will attend Drexel University in the fall. She plans to study neurobiology and “continue to shatter the glass ceiling for women and people of color in the science field.” Latisha Cunningham, a senior at West Chester University, is a non-traditional student and mother of three, working towards her Bachelor of Arts in social work to “make a difference in the lives of her community members.”
“Every year we are blown away by our applicants, and this year was no different,” said CHA Executive Director Steven Fischer. “What struck us about Rachael and Latisha, in particular, is how they both want to use their education to make the lives of those around them better, and that’s really in line with our values at CHA.”
Norman Wise, CHA Director of Housing Operations, suggested the creation of a permanent scholarship fund after kick starting it with a personal donation of $1,000, which was awarded to public housing resident and student Paul Mays Jr. in 2019. “We created this program as a way to leave something good behind long after our tenure with CHA is over,” said Wise. “We’re hoping that the Chester residents who receive this scholarship can take the opportunity being provided to them and pass it on.”
This year, the scholarship fund received donations from various CHA vendors, including Serv Pro, Kleen Image, Kubas and Associates, Remington and Vernick Engineers, and Alpha to Omega Pest Control. CHA employees also participated in a “CHA Biggest Losers” competition to raise money for the students.