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LEF Scholarships: Empowering the Often Overlooked


By Danielle Nadler


I wasn’t the type of kid to win scholarships. I think most of my high school teachers, guidance counselors, and even my parents knew as much.


They never got on me about pursuing scholarships or any education-related awards. As a B student surrounded by straight-A friends, I agreed with them.


So I was surprised one afternoon when my high school journalism teacher told me I’d better attend the Senior Awards Ceremony later that day. I thought her suggestion was a gentle nudge for me to support my friends and classmates. You know, the scholars.


So, that evening, I made my way to the school auditorium. I remember sitting in one of the back rows, ready to cheer on my fellow seniors. Then at one point, to my surprise, they called my name. “Danielle MacMurchy!” My eyebrows raised, my shoulders tensed, and I walked as quickly as I could to the stage.


My teacher presented me with a scholarship to help me in my pursuit of a journalism degree. I couldn’t believe it. I had earned a scholarship.


The dollar amount was just enough to cover textbooks at Minnesota State. But that award, no matter how monetarily small, was huge for me. It was a much-needed dose of encouragement that the work I had fell in love with at the high school newspaper was more than an afterschool hobby.


I’d found my calling.


The scholarship season is always my favorite part of the year at the Loudoun Education Foundation.


Lewis Parker presents the Willowcroft Science Scholarship to Loudoun Valley graduate Prescott Nolls.
Lewis Parker presents the Willowcroft Science Scholarship to Loudoun Valley graduate Prescott Nolls.

All year, our team works to spur generous individuals and companies to support one of the seven scholarships we offer. And from May through June, we get to pull from those funds raised and present check after check after check.


And, better yet, we get to know the well-deserving students.


The 2024 scholars are headed toward a variety of college and career paths, including teaching, construction, agriculture, scientific research, and counseling, among others.


Here are just a few of the scholars LEF helped raise support for this year:

  • Academies of Loudoun student Jose Zepeda, who won the Tools for Success Scholarship, has his eyes set on becoming a master auto technician for Lexus. The scholarship will help cover the cost of an associates degree at the Universal Technical Institute.

  • Thubelihle Ncube, who currently works as a teacher’s assistant at Potomac Falls High School, won one of our Diversifying the Teaching Workforce Scholarship. Coming from Nigeria, her niece had special needs but the developing country could provide little support for her. “I wanted to get involved, learn about the special education system in the United States, and help other students like her.

  • Academies of Loudoun Carlos Gavilan, who’s going directly into the workforce as a welder, will use funds from his Tools for Success Scholarship to purchase tools required to work in the profession.

  • Willowcroft Science Scholarship winner and Loudoun Valley graduate Prescott Noll’s love of scientific research is taking him to University of Miami.

  • Dani Sanchezconcha, a Potomac Falls graduate, also won our Diversifying the Teaching Workforce Scholarship. She told me she wanted to be a teacher after experiencing countless educators help her over the years. “I especially want to help students whose parents don’t know how to advocate for them because of a language barrier.”


Keith Brassfield, Jasmine Waverly, and Danielle Nadler present the Diversifying the Teacher Workforce Scholarship to Potomac Falls High School teacher’s assistant Thubelihle Ncube.
Keith Brassfield, Jasmine Waverly, and Danielle Nadler present the Diversifying the Teacher Workforce Scholarship to Potomac Falls High School teacher’s assistant Thubelihle Ncube.

In total, LEF awarded more than $90,000 in scholarships to graduating seniors and LCPS employees continuing their education. The scholarship amounts range from $500 to $12,000. To some, the funds are just a small help, and to others a scholarship makes furthering their education possible.


No matter the dollar amount, I hope that each of our scholars experiences that same dose of encouragement that I felt as a new graduate. Every student has potential waiting to be unlocked.


Sometimes, all it takes is one unexpected opportunity to light the way forward.


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For more than 30 years, the Loudoun Education Foundation has demonstrated how community support can make meaningful educational impacts in the classroom and beyond. As an independent nonprofit, we engage our community to invest in critical and innovative programs that foster academic success and the well-being of students and educators. We fund programs that stimulate students’ curiosity, create exceptional learning opportunities, and provide needed resources to educators, students and families.

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