August 21, 2023
Justò (Justin) Hendrix, a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, knows that he is not the “typical” student you often see pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education. The 2023 Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Scholarship winner, however, hopes his example can be an inspiration for other Black males to not just complete their educations, but to enter fields where they can make valuable contributions to their communities.
As one of eight winners of CSBG Scholarships this year, Justò is part of a special and impressive group of students from Champaign County who have high aspirations of helping people in their communities once they are done with their studies. This year’s honorees are studying everything from education to nursing to social work, and were selected by the RPC’s Community Action Board to receive a boost to their post-secondary studies during the 2023-24 academic year.
“Being awarded this scholarship will ensure that I am able to pursue my academic goal of obtaining a degree in Early Childhood Education,” Justò says. “Furthermore, as a non-traditional student, it is my hope that I can inspire others to return to school to complete their education. Most importantly, as a Black male in education, it is my aspiration that other Black males enter the field of Education, specifically Early Childhood, in order to make an equitable and inclusive impact for multicultural learning.”
As an Early Childhood Education major with an endorsement in Special Education, Justò hopes to graduate in Spring 2024 and then pursue a Master in Education, either at UIUC or another collegiate institution for Education Policy. We hope the CSBG Scholarship is just a small part of what helps him reach all his goals.
The RPC administers the CSBG Scholarship program with funds awarded from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs. Each of the 2023 scholarship recipients is receiving a portion of the $10,000 scholarship award to help defray the cost of their education and let them focus on their bright futures.
Here’s a look at this year’s other CSBG Scholarship winners and their fields of study:
- Roxanne Balag – Attending Lakeview College of Nursing (Nursing)
- Alia Coleman – Attending Bradley University (Child Clinical Psychologist)
- Kristan Howell –Attending Northern Illinois University (Accountancy and Business)
- Kerene Kombe – Attending the University of Illinois at Springfield (Business Management)
- Philomene Ntumba – Attending Methodist College (Nursing)
- Sage Williams – Attending Illinois State University (Social Work)
- Avery Wright – Attending Parkland College (Nursing)
Alia Coleman, Kerene Kombe, and Sage Williams have all won CSBG Scholarships previously and will be graduating in May 2024.
To be eligible for a CSBG Scholarship, an applicant must be a resident of Champaign County, be at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, be enrolled at or applying to an Illinois post-secondary school (but not have completed a bachelor’s degree), be a full-time student, and meet cumulative grade point average requirements.
We congratulate all our winners!