2012 Sophia L. Gokey Scholarship Recipients



Espoire Habimana, Chicago, Illinois
Espoire watched in horror as his mother, many of his family members, and over 160 refugees were massacred in their refugee camp in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since those dark days, seven years ago, he has used the resilience that grew out of his sorrow and horrible experiences to serve as a youth mentor at RefugeeOne. Espoire hopes to obtain a Master’s Degree in International Relations so that he can work for the United Nations, say thanks to the UN for saving his and his father’s lives, and serve as an ambassador of peace.


Hannah Ruthann White, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee
Hannah was born with five heart defects, but she is described as using her cardiac diagnosis as an inspiration to others and a motivation in her life. She is active as the leader in her chapter of HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America) and Hannah has organized charity projects for Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital as well as a local food pantry. Hannah’s career goal is to become a Nurse Practitioner, specializing in pediatric cardiology. Her college goal? To being treated as “normal” when she heads to college rather than as a woman with a heart condition.

Jasmine Buck, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Can you imagine being able to maintain good grades in school, serving in your school’s student council, active in your school’s musical department and helping your single mom raise two siblings-- while living for a time in a homeless shelter? Jasmine is described by others as hardworking, focused, respectful and mature beyond her years. Jasmine wants to become a nurse. She is inspired to help others after feeling helpless when her fathered died of chronic asthma. She also has her father’s health condition. 



Tina Woods, Galena, Kansas
School is not often described as a “safe haven” by most successful children, but that is how Tina compared it to her “mess” of her family life where she was abused by her parents. During her freshman year, she became a ward of the State of Kansas and placed in foster care. She is ranked #2 in her class, but works part time at her high school in order to save for college. She also serves as mentor to 4th graders that need help with Math and Reading.
 
Each student will receive a $1000 scholarship towards their successful completion of the first semester of their post secondary education. 
 
Sophia’s Heart Foundation was inspired by the life of an extraordinary woman whose love of children overflowed and touched the lives of countless others. Sophia Gokey was a compassionate woman who, despite her heart condition, remained full of optimism, energy and selflessness.  
 
Sophia L. Gokey Scholarship recipients embody the same kind of heart and determination that Sophia possessed.  Although Sophia always had to deal with her condition, she never let it side track her in pursuing her dreams.  Each Scholarship winner has their own personal story of overcoming and is a great role model of perseverance to their surrounding community.



2011 Sophia L. Gokey Scholarship Recipient

We are proud to introduce Kevin R. Johnson as our 2010 recipient of the Sophia L. Gokey  annual college scholarship.
 
Enduring numerous surgeries and procedures, as a result of a congenital heart condition, has not stopped Kevin Johnson. Instead, it has spearheaded his desire to appreciate the life he has, develop an interest in the biomedical field and to demonstrate a compassion for children experiencing the stress and boredom of hospitalization. 
 
Kevin developed “Treats for Trinity Pediatrics” a project at Trinity Medical Center to provide toys, music and CD players for the hospital’s pediatric wing. His empathy for kids in hospitals is real and honest from his own recovery from multiple corrective heart surgeries. As a result of his experiences he has developed a passion for the bio medical field and he is currently enrolled at the University of Iowa. He is studying biomedical engineering. Kevin is a graduate of Rock Island High School, where he was recognized as an Illinois State Scholar.
 
The Sophia L. Gokey Scholarship was established in 2009 to honor students that persevere through a significant roadblock, setback or challenge. In spite of their circumstances they are committed to their dream, excel in school and also choose to get involved to make their communities better. 
 
To apply for a 2012 scholarship, please visit
 
 
 
Sophia’s Heart was inspired by the life of an extraordinary woman whose love of children overflowed and touched the lives of countless others. Sophia Gokey was a compassionate woman who, despite her heart condition, remained full of optimism, energy and selflessness. 

2009 & 2010 Sophia L. Gokey Scholarship Recipients


Sophia L. Gokey Scholarship recipients embody the same kind of heart and determination that Sophia possessed.  Although she always had to deal with her condition, Sophia never let it side track her in pursuing her dreams.  Each Scholarship winner has their own personal story of overcoming and is a great role model of perseverance to their surrounding community.

While there were many with touching stories that applied from around the country, we could only choose 3 recipients for the 2009-2010 school year.  The following are our 2009-2010 recipients accompanied by a brief write up of their stories.  Each student has a touching story, has demonstrated involvement in their communities and was a pleasure to meet along with their parents.

On August 25th, 2009, Sophia's Heart and Danny Gokey invited the first scholarship recipients and their parents to the American Idol's Live tour for a small presentation, and a day of enjoyment with Danny and the rest of the Season 8 Idols.  

Below are the recipients.  Please click on their pictures to read more about their stories and aspirations.  For more pictures from this day, please visit our photo gallery section.

 Rachel Dudzenski                            Billie Ford                            Justin Rodak