Forest Park, IL...Twin sisters Brittany and Brianna Winfield have been working hard for the last year to find money for college.
The hard work has paid off for the Proviso Math and Science Academy (PMSA) seniors, as they earned more than $100,000 in scholarships from schools and foundations.
"It was overwhelming at first," said Brittany, 18, who plans to study nursing at the University of Missouri after winning a $65,000 scholarship there. "But now that I know I don’t have to pay anything my first year, I’m happy to make my family proud."
Brianna, who plans to study education at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), said that by the end of the current school year, she and her sister likely will have applied for 60 to 70 scholarships, most for which she was confident they could get an interview. She has been awarded $1,000 from outside groups. She also has been awarded $92,000 from other schools for which she applied, including Lewis and St. Xavier Universities.
"It’s relieving the financial burden," Brianna said. "It’s basically paying for college with essays for scholarships."
Between the two sisters, they won scholarships from groups including Sisters Investing in Souls, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and Sigma Gamma Rho. Brittany also is a semifinalist for the Greenhouse Scholarship. Most of the awards require the applicant to maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average and complete service in the community and for the organization. Both, for example, will serve at the Candlelight Bowl fundraising event for Sisters Investing in Souls later this spring.
"It’s partly feeling amazed," Brittany said. "It’s something you have to thank God for."
Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209, said that the Winfields demonstrate some of the benefits of working hard in the classroom and in the community.
"These girls have worked hard throughout their time in high school achieving in the classroom and serving the community," she said. "They are great examples of the types of students who deserve every award that they receive."
Ms. Kim Echols, principal at PMSA, called the sisters "academic scholars who are committed to achieving excellence in education."
"I am so proud of both of these young ladies and all that they have accomplished at PMSA," she said. "It is really nice to see their hard work is paying off for them. When students make the right decisions in school, it pays huge dividends in scholarships. I know that they are destined to do great things."