Auburn University Montgomery student Destiny Wallace has won a $10,000 scholarship which encourages youth to continue their studies despite their experience in life.
The psychology major has persevered in school after the loss of her mother to domestic violence. Wallace was 14 at the time. Wallace has a younger brother, and her father is in prison, she said.
She won the scholarship in an essay competition held through Bold.org, a large independent scholarship provider committed to eliminating student debt and democratizing philanthropy.
MMA fighter Cat Zingano created the scholarship following the suicide of her husband, who doubled as her coach.
Wallace said the money will help pay the bills while she pursues her passion. “My career goal is to continue my education here at Auburn University at Montgomery to obtain my bachelor’s degree,” she said. “From that point on, I may attend AUM’s graduate program to specialize in clinical counseling in hopes of furthering my education to become a psychiatrist.”
Wallace, of Birmingham, wrote a deeply moving essay when applying for the award. She revealed the trauma that she and her younger brother faced when they lost their mother. Wallace could either be a role model for her brother or allow the tragedy to set her on a course of anger. “My purpose from this traumatic situation is to create my legacy to the world and other people like myself that your life doesn’t stop there,” she wrote in the essay.
Zingano created the scholarship for brave students just like Wallace. The scholarship was inspired by Zingano’s personal experience fighting through loss and grief, including the cancer death of her mother while Zingano was in college, and the 2014 death of her husband. Although Zingano has faced severe hardships, she continues to fight both on and off the mat.
“I’m extremely humbled and honored to have met Destiny and to be able to help support her on her journey. She is a bright and driven young woman who is pursuing a future in helping people, taking direction from all the tough times she’s been through. Her strength is remarkable, and I believe she will do great things,” Zingano said.
Wallace said the money has helped her by paying tuition and fees for the coming fall semester. “Winning this scholarship is a dream come true. I am grateful and honored to know that my voice matters. I stand firm in the saying that ‘what challenges you have fought or may be going through, don’t define who you are or where you will end up being.’ It has been a beautiful experience meeting Cat Zingano and getting to share our stories with one another — stories that have led us both to help others and spread awareness for others facing similar challenges,” Wallace said.
Zingano is part of a robust list of public figures who make a point of supporting education on Bold.org.
Previous Bold.org scholarship sponsors include professional tennis player Sloane Stephens, producer and DJ 3LAU, actor Terry Crews, NFL players JuJu Smith-Schuster and Brandon Zylstra, NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, Grammy-winning band Imagine Dragons, singer-songwriter Clairo, actress Jameela Jamil and others.
Wallace discovered the scholarship opportunity while looking online for college funding sources. Wallace said psychology was always something that fascinated and stimulated her mind, wanting to know why people do the things they do.
She said the nature of her mom’s passing helps keep her mind on her goals. “It gives me the strength and leadership to be there for others because I am not the only person who has dealt with loss and not too many people get the support they need, may feel alone, or may just even give up on life or feel that they have no purpose to continue on,” she said. “Though, here I am as a way of showing others that I am that inspiration and hope. You have a purpose with many blessings to spread to the world because what happens to you doesn’t define your life, character, spirit, and self.”
Founded in November 2019, Bold.org works to reduce student debt. Bold.org provides a platform for any person or company to create personalized scholarships, fellowships, or grants.