Thermal Belt Friendship Council announces scholarship winner

Published 10:20 pm Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Thermal Belt Friendship Council announces its 2013 Scholarship recipient.

Jonai Dawkins, a senior at Polk County High School, has been selected as this year’s winner.  She plans on attending the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.

Jonai Dawkins

“Because I enjoy giving back to others. I have chosen to become very active in my community. I volunteered at the Polk County Animal Shelter, events held by the Tryon Rotary Club and I have helped package food to give to kids at the Thermal Belt Outreach Ministries,” Dawkins said.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Dawkins is a very active member of Garrison Chapel Baptist Church, and has participated in events held at the Tryon Fine Arts Center such as a Black History play, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. play sponsored by the Thermal Belt Friendship Council and Tryon Fine Arts Center two years ago.

The Thermal Belt Friendship Council seeks to engage young adults in social issues in their communities. The applicants are asked to discuss their community and school involvement, as well as to provide a statement related to how their life promotes social, racial, equality and diversity issues.

Dawkins said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy’ (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.). This quote has served as a sense of motivation and inspiration to me as a young black female growing up in a predominantly white community and school as it encourages me to deal with circumstances and challenges.

The diversity in the past years has expanded tremendously in both my school and community, opening my eyes to different things every day. Because I am a black female, I do not allow that to limit me to what I can do and achieve. I can remember back to my sophomore year in high school when I decided to join the Future Farmers of America (FFA) Club. I knew nothing about agriculture, and because none of my closest friends were in any of the classes, I was kind of iffy about joining the club. I decided to join anyway not really knowing what to expect. The agriculture classes turned out to be my favorite classes. I was the only black in those classes, but I did not allow that to hinder my opportunities of meeting new people and learning new things. At most high schools, you have cliques. I strive to be different, and I try to be open-minded. I choose not to surround myself around a certain type of crowd, but I make friends with everybody, building my own relationships with them. Being able to learn about and socialize with people regardless of race or culture differences, I believe is valuable as it is helping me to become a better person not only for myself, but for my family, as well as my community.”

Dawkins is the daughter of Michelle Miller and stepfather, Roy Miller. She will be recognized at the Thermal Belt Friendship Council’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration on Friday, Jan. 18, at the Tryon Fine Arts Center. A check for $500 will be mailed to the college she attends.  The program is free to the public and will start at 6 p.m.

The keynote speaker for the event is Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe, CEO-President of the Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB) Organization. Attendees will also be treated to the smooth soulful voice of Mr. Bryant Belin, owner of VP Studios. A Free Events Grant from the Polk County Foundation, as well as a partnership with the Tryon Fine Arts Center, makes the event possible. To find out more about the Thermal Belt Friendship Council, visit the organization’s website at