2018 Boo Grigsby Foundation Scholarship Awardees

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Gerardo Diaz

High School: Saint James High School, Saint James Parish

Planned Major: Nursing

College: Nicholls State University

Gerardo is known as a hard-working and motivated student. A self-starter, he has taken dual enrollment classes and has not let hardships stand in the way of accomplishing his biggest life goals, including going to college. Embodying his family’s values of patience, dedication, and strong work ethic, Gerardo has taken the initiative to make his dream of going to college a reality. He has applied for tons of scholarships, completed his FAFSA, and has received a scholarship from Nicholls State University, where he has been accepted. Gerardo plans to major in nursing not only because of the positive influence it can have on his life, but also because it is an opportunity to directly help others. After finishing college and becoming a licensed nurse, Gerardo plans on working in a physician’s office or hospital. 

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Samantha Ellis

High School: Brusly High School, West Baton Rouge Parish

Planned Major: Psychology

College: Southeastern Louisiana University

Samantha has said that she believes she is a great role model to those younger than she is – and we wholeheartedly agree. Despite the unexpected family struggles that life has thrown at her, Samantha has overcome these challenges with commendable strength. With strong academic performance and a perfect 4.0 GPA, Samantha is organized, hard working, logical, persevering, and headstrong. After majoring in psychology at Southeastern University, she plans on working towards her master’s degree and working in a profession that helps abused and disabled children. Having a personal connection to this cause, Samantha wants to build up the children of tomorrow, helping them navigate the world and succeed in life. 

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Armani Jackson

High School: Saint James High School, Saint James Parish 

Planned Major: Biological Sciences and Pre-Medicine

College: Louisiana State University

Ever since she was a child, it was Armani’s dream to attend Louisiana State University, and this dream was only reaffirmed when she received outstanding medical care as a child from LSU doctors and medical students. Despite surgeries and frequent hospital visits, Armani was able to stay on top of her schoolwork. After losing her father and being raised by a single mom, Armani is nothing short of resilient. She is a hard working student who is in the “Top 30” of her class. She is also involved on campus and is a cheerleader for Saint James High School. She plans to major in Biological Sciences as a pre-medicine student, so she, too, can provide excellent healthcare for children.

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Jordan Jefferson

High School: Scotlandville Magnet High School, East Baton Rouge Parish

Planned Major: Chemical Engineering

College: University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Jordan is a student who continuously goes above and beyond. He is a remarkably independent self-starter, as his parents live out-of-state. From academics to extracurricular activities, he works hard. Since middle school, Jordan has been taking advanced classes – and he even went to class on “Senior Skip Day.” Jordan is an active member in numerous clubs: football, NASA Rover Race, Innovation Design Thinking, Track and Field, The Baton Rouge Youth Coalition (both the Youth Government and Ambassadors) Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Fanatics, High School Engineering Symposium, Robotics, and Beta Club. He is also a Boy Scout and received the Eagle Scout Award, the highest award possible. He has a 4.21 GPA and has applied for over 20 scholarships to attend college. With a deep passion for chemistry and engineering, Jordan has set his sights high on earning a professional engineer’s license, which requires a master’s degree, internship, and exams. 

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Gabriel Johnson

High School: Broadmoor High School, East Baton Rouge Parish

Planned Major: Nursing

College: Baton Rouge Community College; transfer to Franciscan University

Gabriel’s journey hasn’t been an easy one, but he has remained wonderfully positive and tenacious – he always has a smile on his face. After moving from New Orleans to Baton Rouge after Hurricane Katrina, Gabriel’s grandmother passed away and his mother experienced medical issues. However, from these experiences, Gabriel became inspired to become a nurse to help others. He has displayed excellent leadership and teamwork as a member of the yearbook team and Homecoming Court. An honor roll student, his steadfast attention to his academics is admirable. He works as a library aide and is always willing to help his fellow librarians, teachers, and students. Gabriel also won the senior superlatives for “best personality,” “most likely to become president,” “most school spirit,” and “most dependable!” Gabriel learned from his Career Compass college & career coaches about what it would take to finance his college dreams and feels that attending Baton Rouge Community College RCC first, and then transferring to a four-year program, is the right path to reach his dreams while not accruing debt.

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Jaden Johnson

High School: Lutcher High School, Saint James Parish

Planned Major: Criminal Justice

College: Southern University and A&M College

Simply put, Jaden is an inspiration. As a child of a single parent and raised alongside her disabled cousin and sibling, Jaden is always willing to help out and do whatever needs to be done to support her family. She is remarkably responsible, ambitious, and driven. Jaden wants to major in Criminal Justice at Southern University so that she can become a lawyer and help others. Having seen her family and others suffer due to negligence and improper behavior, Jaden wants to use her voice to defend those who cannot defend themselves. After she graduates, she hopes to attend Southern University Law Center so that she can learn to represent clients in criminal and civil settings. 

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Michael-Anne Leachman

High School: Port Allen High School, West Baton Rouge Parish

Planned Major: Sociology and Political Science

College: Southeastern Louisiana University

Michael-Anne is gifted student with outstanding academic accolades, including being an AP Scholar and honor roll student. What’s more, she has shown breathtaking strength and resiliency in the face of an unstable home life, poverty, and displacement. Her grandmother, a retired English teacher, instilled in her the value of education and pushed her to succeed. Despite these challenges, yet also because of them, Michael-Anne will study sociology and political science at Southeastern University because she has a passion for helping others. After her earning her bachelor’s degree, she plans on pursuing law school or a master’s degree in social work at Louisiana State University. With a conviction to assist underprivileged and underrepresented adolescents, Michael-Anne hopes to participate in politics or social work to advance Louisiana and better our state. As she has said – “my heart is in the people of Louisiana.”

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Kaleb Marcotte

High School: Franklin Senior High School, Saint Mary Parish

Planned Major: Nursing

College: Nicholls State University

Kaleb has worked tirelessly to break out of his shell and show the world who he really is – an intelligent, selfless, compassionate young man who aims to become a registered nurse and work for St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Tennessee to help children battling cancer. While he has faced some challenges in managing his Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), he is resolute about making the most of every learning experience and life experience that comes his way. As a result, he graduated high school Magna Cum Laude with a 3.667 GPA while enrolled in honors classes, and was a three-year National Honor Society member. Kaleb plans on majoring in nursing at Nicholls State University.

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Kelvin Murphy

High School: Port Allen High School, West Baton Rouge Parish

Planned Major: Electrical Engineering 

College: Southern University and A&M University

Kelvin is an extraordinarily dedicated individual, balancing both sports and academics. He is ranked 12th in his graduating class and has strong willpower to do great things in college. Despite losing his father at a young age and other family troubles, Kelvin discovered a passion and enthusiasm for mathematics and electricity. Kelvin plans on majoring in Electrical Engineering at Southern so that he can work in the railroad industry.  He wants to attend Southern because it has one of the best engineering programs in the country, and he can remain close to his family and support system. The oldest of three boys, Kelvin has big goals. We are confident that Kelvin is going to transform the transportation and logistics industries through his chosen career path.

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David Ortiz

High School: East Iberville High School, Iberville Parish

Planned Major: Art and Photography

College: Southeastern Louisiana University

David is a go-getter and a top academic performer. Raised in a single-parent home, he has never given up on his dream of walking across the stage to receive his diploma, constantly staying focused, motivated, and determined to learn. David participated in dual enrollment, holds the second highest ACT score in his senior class, and the highest CLEP score in Spanish. He held a job during high school to help out at home and has sought additional financial aid to fund his studies. Independent and astute, David plans to major in Art and Photography at Southeastern. He aspires to be a professional photographer to capture the happiest moments in life, including weddings, birthdays, and graduations.

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Kate Thibodeaux

High School: Assumption High School, Assumption Parish

Planned Major: Marketing

College: University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Kate is a phenomenal young woman who is responsible, loving, and hardworking. Her academic record is excellent – she has a 4.43 GPA and is second in her class. Kate is involved in many extracurricular activities, including tennis, student council, student ambassadors, and Future Farmers of America. She helps others in need and is a positive role model to all those around her. Adopted from South Korea, Kate faced the challenges of being an international adoptee in a small Louisiana town. She has embraced her differences and is confident in what makes her unique. Attending college has always been a top priority for Kate, and she is determined to do all she can to make her dream come true. She aspires to work in marketing to positively impact others’ lives and send messages of encouragement. She also plans on joining the Catholic Ministry at University of Louisiana. 

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Mackenzie Wilson

High School: McKinley High School, East Baton Rouge Parish

Planned Major: Biochemistry and Pre-Medicine 

College: Louisiana State University 

Mackenzie is a hardworking, driven student who strives to achieve outstanding goals and refuses to settle for anything less than greatness. In 2016, Mackenzie’s home was damaged in the massive floods that devastated much of Greater Baton Rouge. She and her mother had to be rehomed, which placed additional strain on the family. On top of this, her single mother has struggled with health issues while supporting her family. However, Mackenzie has made the most of her situation and aspires to become a pediatrician. She was always inquisitive as a child, especially when it came to medical issues. She hopes to open her own clinic to provide medical services to high-need, low-income communities so that any family can receive healthcare, regardless of their socioeconomic status.