Like many college students, YaMinco Varner struggled to navigate through the college process. Her mother died when she was young and her father dropped out of college after one semester to join the military. With no parental guidance on college matters, she changed majors multiple times, wasting precious time and money.
But with firm resolve and determination, YaMinco graduated from Spelman College with a bachelor of arts degree in sociology and anthropology and then continued her pursuit of education at Howard University, where she received a masters degree in social work.
It wasn’t until after graduation, YaMinco realized she could help young women like her, who lacked first-hand experience or insight on matters critical to success in college and careers; how to maximize financial aid, the importance of internships, and networking.
She established the Young Women of Excellence Scholarship to assist students on their collegiate journey. “The impetus behind the scholarship is really to be able to support students, both from a mentorship aspect as well as a financial aspect as they begin their college journeys,” said YaMinco Varner, KIPP Texas-Dallas-Fort Worth College Services Manager, KIPP Through College.
The two-year program is designed to provide students with two years of mentorship, a one year $1,000 scholarship, and ongoing persistence coaching and support.
As a life-long advocate for young people, her passion lies in inspiring students to passionately pursue the path that will allow them to reach their full potential.
“I think it’s really one of the things that I love most about like my role at KIPP is that we are able to support students on this journey, whether it’s from an academic vantage point or a social emotional vantage point, but sometimes it’s just these like financial burdens this students experience. I really wanted to be able to come in and kind of meet that need while also being able to put in front of a young lady, someone who looks like them, who has gone along a similar path,” she said.
The scholarship is open to high school girls attending KIPP Texas-Dallas-Fort Worth, KIPP Texas-Houston, and KIPP Tulsa who plan to attend an Historically Black College & University (HBCU). YaMinco received both her degrees from HBCUs.
“I am a proud Houstonian and so I definitely wanted to reward a KIPPster from the Houston area. I’ve spent the last six years of my career supporting students to and through in the Dallas region. And my late mother is from Tulsa, Oklahoma and it’s really important to plant a legacy in the Tulsa Oklahoma region as well,” she said.
The deadline to apply for the Young Women in Excellence Scholarship is March 31, 2021. For more information and submit an application, click here.