Alayna Holmes dropped by a Brunswick High School classroom Thursday morning just expecting to hear from a speaker before returning to her dual enrollment schoolwork.
Holmes was among the first to sit down in Courtney Lucas’ classroom, where Lucas serves students in the Communities in Schools program. Holmes spends most of her class time at College of College Georgia, where she’s taking several classes this semester ahead of her high school graduation in May.
What Holmes didn’t know would happen Thursday was the presentation of a $10,000 check with her name on it, meant to support her future college plans.
Shakir Robinson, a BHS alumnus who attended and played football for the U.S. Naval Academy, stopped by his alma mater to speak to students and present his annual scholarship, called the “Dare to Be Your Best Scholarship,” which he has gifted to a BHS senior each year since 2011.
For the 10th anniversary of the scholarship, Robinson said he wanted to go big and decided to increase the scholarship amount to $10,000.
“You know in basketball, they’ve got the lead scorers, whoever scores the most points,” Robinson said, during a phone call the day before. “Another important stat is the assist … how many times do you pass and the person you pass it to makes the shot? I feel like that’s where I’m at in my career now. It’s not about making points, it’s about how many assists I can get to set others up for success.”
As Robinson spoke to the group of students, before he revealed the scholarship check, several Brunswick High staff members quietly came into the room. A couple of people in the know pulled out their cellphones and surreptitiously began recording videos.
“Is Alayna Holmes in here?” Robinson eventually asked. She raised her hand from her seat by the window. “Do you want to come up? I’ve got a little something for you.”
Robinson then explained that he’d reached out to Lucas and others with CIS, a group he’d volunteered with during his junior and senior years of high school, and asked about potential recipients of this year’s scholarship.
“I just said I’m looking for somebody to bless, to assist them as they go to college,” he said. “They didn’t have to have perfect grades, they didn’t have to be No. 1 in the class. Who I wanted to find was a grinder, somebody who was willing to work, somebody who was willing to put in the time, somebody who had initiative.”
Holmes’ surprise was evident. She thanked everyone involved and shared her post-graduation plans to pursue a career in psychiatric nursing.
“I’ll probably have to be in school for six years, if that, because when I graduate I’ll have taken eight college classes already,” she said. “When I graduate I plan on moving somewhere like New York or something to work in a specialty house with psychiatric patients and work for two years then go back and get my nurse practitioner license.”
Helping students achieve their dreams has been the goal of Robinson’s scholarship for a decade.
“I had the opportunity to attend the United States Naval Academy up in Annapolis, Maryland, and once you’re there, everything is paid for — books, tuition, everything,” he said. “So I realized, man I’m pretty fortunate to have this opportunity. A lot of my friends going to UGA or wherever aren’t so fortunate and they’re having to come out of pocket for a lot.”
He decided 10 years ago to create a small scholarship — the first year’s amount was maybe $250, he said — and give back to the community that raised him.
“At this point in my life, I’ve seen the full circle of starting off at Altama (Elementary), going to CB Greer (Elementary), off to Needwood (Middle) and then Brunswick High,” he said. “And there’s just so many people that have poured into my life, I’m just a reflection of Brunswick, Georgia.”
While at BHS, he also gave his former teachers Amazon gift cards and donated to the school’s FBLA and football programs.
He said he hopes the scholarship will help set Holmes up for success in her future.
“I know she’s going to do great things,” he said.