6 Scholarships for Southerners

Dixie, the land of sweet tea, gumbo, sandy beaches, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and southern hospitality. The historical landscapes, colorful cities, delicious food, and tourist destinations can often overshadow the region’s history with education. For some, the first thing that comes to mind regarding attending college in the south is either SEC football or “party schools.” However, this stereotype greatly undersells everything the south has to offer, with tremendous institutions of higher learning scattered throughout the region. Born and bred southerners know this from the start. Here are some options for scholarships for students from the land of Dixie:

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NACA South Student Leadership Scholarships

Deadline: November 30

Amount: Varying

To encourage southerners to lead their peers in campus environments, the NACA (National Association for Campus Activities) offers a significant scholarship for current college undergrads involved in campus extracurriculars. Unlike most undergrad scholarships, which allow incoming high school seniors to apply, the NACA posits that students must already be enrolled and active on campus to be eligible.

Students must attend school in the NACA’s designated southern region, which is made up of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and the territory of Puerto Rico. The thorough application asks that applicants “hold a significant leadership position on campus”, as well as “demonstrate significant leadership skills and ability.” The awards vary based on several factors and go towards tuition fees and textbooks.

Bernie Varnadore Dixie Boys Scholarship

Deadline: April 1

Amount: $1,250

Since the early days of Baseball, the deep south has produced stars who hold their heritage with pride, such as Ty Cobb of the Tigers (“The Georgia Peach”) and Dodgers slugger Fred “Dixie” Walker. To this day, stars such as Giants fireballer/2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner and Yankees catcher Brian McCann keep the southern baseball tradition alive.

The Dixie Boys Baseball program, an amateur league for youngster southerners from the ages of 13-19, aims to continue painting the south’s rich baseball tapestry by producing major leaguers one day. However, more than that, the Dixie program places an extreme emphasis on sportsmanship, teamwork, and leadership, hoping to encourage their athletes to transfer these abilities to the classroom as well. The Bernie Varnadore scholarship, named for the late beloved chairman of the Dixie program, offers eleven scholarships of $1,250 each to either former or current Dixie players who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement.

The application calls for letters of recommendation, a 150-word essay, test transcripts, and a local league official’s signature. For high schoolers rounding third and heading for home, this scholarship provides a last burst of energy to propel them into higher learning.

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Michael A. DeMayo Scholarship

Deadline: March 16, 2020

Amount: $2,500

It is estimated that 27-28 people per day are killed in the United States by drunk or impaired drivers. This scholarship, established by injury attorney Michael DeMayo, asks high school seniors in North and South Carolina to consider this statistic and others, and then create a presentation on the dangers of drunk driving. The application also takes into account academic and extracurricular performance, along with standardized test scores. However, students need a written or recorded presentation on this extremely important topic for the scholarship to consider them.

Through the scholarship, DeMayo aims to take what is often a highly personal and sensitive issue and start an open dialogue among students and professionals alike. Take a cab. Call a friend. Grab an Uber. Ride the bus if you have to. It’s not worth it to risk your life and the lives of others.

NGC Deep South Region Scholarship Program

Deadline: TBD for 2021

Amount: $3,500

The boundaries of what is referred to as the “deep south” seem to vary each time the phrase is uttered, but it is generally agreed that it includes the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. National Garden Clubs, Inc. accepts this definition, listing these states as its “Deep South Region” on their website. According to their mission statement, the NGC “provides education, resources, and national networking opportunities for its members to promote the love of gardening, floral design, and civic and environmental responsibility.”

To this end, the NGC offers deep southerners aiming to study environmental subjects a scholarship, hoping to incentivize interest in the environment among the youth. In order to be eligible, students must be a permanent resident of one of the six states listed above, demonstrate financial need, maintain a 3.25 cumulative GPA, and show commitment to an area of study endorsed by the NGC. The award grants two scholarships of $3,000 annually to go towards tuition.

AIHA Venable Scholarship

Deadline: TBD for 2021

Amount: Varying

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), founded in 1939, protected the health of industrial workers during a time of mass production in the united states. To this day, the organization works tirelessly, studying worker health, manufacturing, and its effect on both the environment and the human beings who work their fingers to the bone on machinery. To establish continued interest in the field, the AIHA awards several scholarships each year to students entering areas of study related to their mission.

One such award is the Venable Scholarship, named for Fred S. Venable, who was basically the Michael Jordan of industrial hygiene. After his death, the AIHA established the Fred S. Venable, open to students in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, or Texas.

To be eligible, students must be entering either the occupational or environmental safety field in an institution in one of the above states. The award’s financial stipends depend on the student’s financial need and the college attended.

NIADA Foundation Region II Scholarship

Deadline: TBD for 2020-2021

Amount: $3,500

There is often a concern in national scholarship competitions that students from wealthier areas or places with higher populations have an inherent advantage. By slicing up the country into four regions, the NIADA (National Independent Automobile Dealers Association) aims to give equal opportunity to American high schoolers nationwide, with a student from each region given a scholarship.

Much of the deep south is included in Region II, consisting of Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. The scholarship chooses one student from the area to receive a $3500 scholarship at the NIADA’s annual June convention. As long as a student resides within the region, they are eligible to apply.

The scholarship also chooses students based on two other factors: academic achievement, i.e. high school transcripts, and college aptitude, demonstrated through SAT and ACT scores.


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