A senior hoping to help young people and a freshman entrepreneur have been awarded the 2016 Martin Luther King, Jr. & Fannie Lou Hamer Scholarship, a partnership that began between Fresno Pacific University and several local congregations.
Deja Alewine is a senior who plans to graduate in December 2016 with a major in psychology and a minor in criminal justice. Samuel Janzen is a freshman majoring in business administration with a focus on international sports management.
Now in its third year, the King & Hamer Scholarship supports African American students, who are underrepresented in higher education in general, and Christian higher education in particular. The scholarship is also designed to raise awareness of FPU within the African American community and send the message that Christian higher education is affordable and accessible.
Alewine is from Fresno and lives in Clovis. She has been involved in various programs at her church, Saints Community Church of God in Christ, Fresno, including the young women’s Bible study. She also did an internship at Violet Heintz Education Academy, an alternative school. At FPU, she has been commuter coordinator and a member of the Commuter Council and the Images Club.
Born in Sacramento, Janzen, who is bi-racial, and has spent his life in Fresno after being adopted by Judy and Joel Janzen, a white couple. He has been involved in leadership training, specifically working with community young people, at Bethany MB Church, which he attends.
After graduation Alewine plans to attend California Baptist University and study psychology/counseling with a concentration in forensic psychology, eventually getting her doctorate. She wants to work with juveniles in law enforcement. “I don’t want to just diagnose people, I want to talk to them and help them,” she said.
Building on a plan and a model he began while still in high school, Janzen hopes to bring his creation, SportReport, to the market. “It’s a data analytics business that analyzes player potential—a scouting business,” he said. The focus is on soccer. “That’s where the international sports management comes in,” he added.
The King & Hamer Scholarship brings financial and other benefits, according to Janzen and Alewine.
Alewine receives a state Cal Grant and other aid, but has still needed loans. “I was worried about having to take out a huge loan just to get through my last four months,” she said. “The scholarship has been an immense blessing. I’m very, very grateful.”
Janzen hopes to be a good example of and for the African American community. “It means a lot in this day and age where there’s a big focus on Black Lives Matter. I get to represent the scholarship and Fresno Pacific University and make an impact. That’s the best part,” he said.
The scholarship is named for civil right leaders Martin Luther King, Jr., and Fannie Lou Hamer. King was a pastor, activist and Nobel Peace Prize-winner who used civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs. Hamer was an American voting-rights activist, share-cropper and freedom fighter whose Christian faith was instrumental in organizing Mississippi Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She is known for saying, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
Rev. Karen D. Crozier, Ph.D., associate professor of practical theology and director of faculty development and diversity at FPU, mentors scholarship recipients, who serve in a West Fresno congregation or non-profit. Joining with FPU are Bethany MB Church, Christ Temple Church, Saints Community Church of God in Christ, Witness of Jesus Christ Church and the West Fresno Ministerial Association.
To be eligible for the King & Hamer Scholarship, students must:
Be part of a church, organization or educational agency willing to partner with FPU and make a one-time contribution of $250
Meet all regular admission requirements and follow all admission processes for the traditional undergraduate, degree completion or graduate program in which they wish to enroll
Be admitted to FPU
Be born in the United States and be of black, African American or African descent
Be willing to serve at least five hours a week in a ministry, organization or project in West Fresno that promotes peace and justice