Croom Foundation Awards Four Major Scholarships in Memory of Slain Officer
A Tuscaloosa-based nonprofit awarded major scholarships to four West Alabama teens in memory of a locally raised police officer who was killed on duty in Mississippi last year.
As the Thread previously reported, Tuscaloosa native Kennis Croom, the son of local leaders Tracy and Kelvin Croom, was fatally shot last summer while responding to a domestic violence call in Meridian, Mississippi.
While the Crooms were and are devastated, they honored his memory by creating the $7,500 Officer Kennis Croom Memorial Scholarship, which was distributed for the first time last year through the family's Croom Foundation, run by Kennis' brother Kevin Croom.
The scholarship helped send Central High School graduate Michael Richardson to Maryville College in Tennessee, where he is excelling in academics and athletics alike.
Earlier this year, the Foundation hosted the first-ever Memorial Scholarship Gala in Mississippi, seeking to raise enough money to assist two students this year, not one, but people's generosity in Kennis' memory exceeded expectations and on Wednesday morning, the Foundation awarded three $7,500 scholarships plus a brand-new one to a fourth student.
The checks were presented by Kennis' parents, Tracy and Kelvin Croom, and his oldest son.
The first scholarship was awarded to Talia Kee, a graduate of Northridge High School who will begin study this fall at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Justin McKnight, a graduate of Thompson High School received funding to study at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga.
Finally, Tedesia McGuffie of Greensboro High School was awarded $7,500 to attend Spellman College in Atlanta.
After the three young people had been recognized, Kevin Croom retook the stage at College Hill Missionary Baptist Church to introduce a new award - the inaugural Lighthouse Award.
The Officer Kennis Croom Memorial Scholarship gives students a one-time $7,500 payment for tuition and other college expenses, and Kevin said the new Lighthouse Award will fund the recipient's entire four-year journey from junior college to undergraduate graduation.
"There was one young lady that we interviewed who touched our family so much and reminded us so much of Kennis, from her laughter and playfulness to her road to getting to college," Kevin said. "Once we got off the call we said we have to give her an award because she embodied himself so much."
The scholarship was granted to Rose Hale, a graduate of Central High School in Tuscaloosa who will study at Itawamba Community College in Fulton. Mississippi.
To end the ceremony, Tracy and Kelvin Croom addressed the friends and families of the recipients gathered in the church Wednesday, faced with the challenge of celebrating scholarships awarded in memory of their own murdered son.
"This means so much to our family and it embodies everything Kennis stood for," Tracy Croom said. "In uniform and as a person, Kennis loved children, he loved working with adults, he loved working with adults who were in a challenged situation, and he lived his entire life and gave his life to make things better for others."
"Death has a sting," Kelvin Croom said. "But God has the tweezers to pull it out."
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