Evan Rachel Wood, a 21 year-old Golden Globe nominated actress and North Carolina native, has announced the four winners of our first ever $10K Undergraduate Hurricane Relief Scholarship awards. The four student winners are: William Stoudt of New Orleans; Jessica Alvey of Pelham, Alabama; Amanda McGovern of Key Largo, Florida; and Alexander Girau of New Orleans.
Evan Rachel Wood, an acclaimed actress whose movie credits include Thirteen, Across the Universe, and the 2008 Oscar-nominated film The Wrestler, called the award winners on Wednesday, July 15, 2009 to announce the good news. Wood has lived in Los Angeles, CA since age 9, but was born in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her link to one of the nation’s major storm zones (the Carolina coast) was one reason P!N asked her to notify the four winners.
Wood is one of the several celebrity partners, like P!N co-founder Morgan Freeman and board member Kenny Chesney, who have been integral to P!N’s success.
“I am extremely proud to be able to award these scholarships,” said Morgan Freeman. “Each of these individuals has overcome extraordinary obstacles, and their scholarships are well-deserved.”
Country music superstar Kenny Chesney added, “It is in raising awareness that we can make a difference. To empower and help these young people continue their education and raise the bar of what they can share…[ensures that] the message only gets stronger. To turn back loss through education is a powerful thing – and these students are the tip of the power of what can be in terms of hurricane awareness.”
As per the award requirements, Undergraduate Hurricane Relief Scholarship applicants have experienced the devastation of severe storms through hardships such as forced relocation, loss of social networks, or the death of loved ones.
“These students have been changed forever by severe storms and hurricanes. Their heartbreaking experiences propelled them into grassroots activism, and they’re ready to use their voices and their stories in bigger ways, to help others,” said Donna Lee, P!N co-founder and CEO.
The scholarships are part of P!N’s work to enhance hurricane preparedness in US storm-zones. The 2009 awards are the organization’s inaugural scholarship effort, and P!N plans more such grants in the future. Furthering grassroots advocacy is a core component of P!N scholarships. Thus, the 2009 Hurricane Relief Scholarship winners demonstrated not only a unique combination of academic and/or service excellence, but also a willingness to use their experiences to teach others. Dr. William Anderson, a national expert on natural disasters and a member of the scholarship selections committee, commented,
“The most admirable aspect of this program is that it is attempting to enable former disaster victims to become leaders in disaster preparedness, thus reducing the likelihood that other vulnerable persons might become disaster victims in the future.”
WHO ARE THE 2009 SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS?
William Stoudt is a native of New Orleans, LA. He’s a junior at Tulane University in New Orleans, pursuing a double major in Business and Political Science with a 3.087 GPA. William dreams of one day becoming the mayor of New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina devastated his neighborhood, the Eagle Scout evacuated to Houston, TX where he and his twin brother lived for over 9 months, attending night school to finish high school. Upon returning to New Orleans, William and his brother founded Youth Rebuilding, a non-profit to inspire local youth involvement and volunteering in community-building projects. Youth Rebuilding began as a small single school local effort and is now a large city-wide organization working with many of the high schools, middle schools and grade schools.
Jessica Alvey is a native Southerner currently living in Pelham, AL where she attends the University of Alabama. Jessica is a college senior pursuing a degree in psychology and criminal justice with a minor in Mandarin Chinese and an overall GPA of 3.94. Jessica will spend her senior year abroad in China. Upon graduation she hopes to join the Peace Corps and work overseas helping to improve the lives of others. Jessica’s life was turned upside down in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina which made landfall just a few miles from her hometown, Slidell, LA. Jessica and her family evacuated to Birmingham, AL where her family now resides. Volunteering has always part of Jessica’s life, but after Hurricane Katrina she dedicated her life to helping those in need. Jessica volunteers to care for the elderly and disabled, children and animals.
Amanda McGovern is a native of Key Largo, FL but currently resides in Portland, OR where she is actively pursuing a degree in fashion at the Art Institute of Portland. She is a college sophomore and holds a 3.7 GPA in her program. She hopes to use her degree in fashion to help the less fortunate. As a Floridian, Amanda was impacted by many hurricanes, but Hurricane Andrew was the disaster that destroyed her home when she was a child. Today, Amanda volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and works with the City Rescue Mission of Jacksonville, FL. In specific, she volunteers as a seamstress, altering interview clothing for low-income job-seekers.
Alexander Girau is a native of New Orleans, LA. He is a senior at Loyola University in New Orleans, LA with a 3.084 GPA. He is completing a double major with honors in Chemistry and Finance. He hopes to one day own his own business in the oil industry. He is currently involved in many different volunteer and philanthropic opportunities ranging from being a representative of his fraternity at national events to volunteering at the Audubon Zoo. In 2005 Alexander’s home was destroyed, flooded by Hurricane Katrina. At the time of the hurricane Alexander and his family evacuated to Houston, TX. His family has since returned to New Orleans and is slowly rebuilding their lives.