Madi­son Car­mouche-Soward ($20,000)

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - NBA -

“The most im­por­tant thing about her to me is how she cares about other peo­ple.”

— Mil­li­cent Car­mouche, Madi­son’s mother

Car­mouche-Soward had just fin­ished a book bank drive in which she raised money and bought books and sup­plies to fill 50 back­packs for el­e­men­tary school stu­dents when she heard about the Rose Schol­ars pro­gram on the ra­dio.

Her com­mu­nity ser­vice — the cen­ter of her ap­pli­ca­tion es­say — ex­ceeded her NBA knowl­edge.

“As a kid, I thought the NBA was called ‘ShaqKobe’ be­cause we lived in Cal­i­for­nia and we were big Lak­ers fans,” she said, laugh­ing.

Her mother said Car­mouche-Soward would scream “ShaqKobe” at the TV as a tod­dler no mat­ter what NBA game played. Still, a love for sports and ser­vice bloomed.

She played bas­ket­ball — “I wasn’t very good,” Car­mouche-Soward said — soc­cer and gym­nas­tics. She vol­un­teered at el­e­men­tary schools and re­tire­ment com­mu­ni­ties and on po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns. Ac­cord­ing to her mother, Car­mouche-Soward al­ready has logged 1,000 hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice.

A com­pet­i­tive gym­nast, she com­bined the two pas­sions at age 12 when she’d vol­un­teer to coach tod­dlers ev­ery Satur­day morn­ing.

“My daugh­ter is re­ally ac­tive in sports and has a 4.0 GPA,” her mother, Mil­li­cent Car­mouche, said. “But the most im­por­tant thing about her to me is how she cares about other peo­ple and how she reaches out to her com­mu­nity with­out even be­ing asked. She has a big heart. I love how this schol­ar­ship en­com­passes the whole per­son.”

Now on the com­pet­i­tive cheer team, she got sur­prised by her school prin­ci­pal at Bob Jones High School’s fi­nal foot­ball game with news of her stipend. She al­ready has been ac­cepted into three schools and is await­ing word from her first choice, Spel­man Col­lege in At­lanta.

She is lean­ing to­ward ma­jor­ing in in­ter­na­tional stud­ies with a mi­nor in Span­ish and con­sid­er­ing law school af­ter her un­der­grad­u­ate stud­ies.

“A lot of the times when you feel like things aren’t go­ing your way and you want to give up, you don’t,” Car­mouche-Soward said. “Der­rick’s a great ex­am­ple of that. It’s just a re­ally big bless­ing to pay honor to what this schol­ar­ship means.”

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