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Scholarship honors Lowery

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Grady graduates Rex Petersen (‘13) and Mallory Mcfarlin (‘14) each received a $1,000 scholarship from The Lee Project, a nonprofit organization focused on assisting Grady students attending Georgia State.

Allison Webb, the mother of Lee Lowery, formed TLP following Lowery’s death on Nov. 12, 2012 from a gunshot wound. Lowery graduated from Grady in 2010 and was a junior at Georgia State when he passed away.

Webb, who aspired to establish TLP in the month following her son’s death, wanted to create something to keep Lowery’s name alive and to help the community that supported Lowery.

“It was a way of remembering and honoring Lee,” Webb said.

Webb said she created TLP with fostering a relationship between Grady and Georgia State in mind; to give back to the schools Lowery attended and loved so much.

“Grady for us was a wonderful experience,” Webb said. “It only felt right to bring it to Grady and maybe give back some of what they gave.”

Webb fondly remembers Lowery taking pottery classes at Grady and attending student-run fashions shows.  

Petersen and Mcfarlin said the scholarship seemed tailored to their situation as Grady students at Georgia State.

“It was so close to home I figured I would apply,” Mcfarlin said.

Applicants for the endowed scholarship wrote an essay on tragedies or adversities they have overcome.

Webb said she hopes writing about a difficult event can help applicants heal as sharing was a crucial first-step in her own recovery. Webb admitted she wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the support of others.

“You don’t just snap and you are healed,” Webb said.

Petersen, a computer science major, wrote about discovering who he was and navigating the tumultuous world of high school. Mcfarlin wrote about how the untimely deaths and suicides of some of her close friends have shaped who she is today.

Petersen said his hard work at Georgia State and the fact he knew Lowery helped him get the scholarship.

“It’s not that I like chatted with [Lowery] on a regular basis but I knew of him,” Petersen said.

Mcfarlin, a pre-journalism major, also shared a connection with Lowery through mutual friends and would occasionally see him at parties.

“He was always smiling,” Mcfarlin said.

Petersen, who works during the semester, said the scholarship allowed him to focus on his studies to help fulfill his goals of becoming a  great computer scientist. Time once spent on fulfilling necessities can now be directed at Petersen’s calculus or physics problem set.

“I don’t have to worry what I am going to do for food,” Petersen said. “It helped take a load off my plate.”

TLP planned on awarding the scholarship next year but through persistent fundraising the project was able to raise enough money to award the scholarships this year.

“We hoped to grant one originally but with such great response from family, friends and the community giving to the endowment, we were able to grant two,” Webb said in an email.

One of TLP’s current initiatives to raise donations is “save the change to make a change” in which mason jars are passed out to collect spare change to support TLP. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to support TLP and the scholarship fund.

Webb has personally raised $1,000 through change and she hopes each time someone puts change into one of the mason jars they remember Lowery.

TLP also hosts events to remember Lowery and to raise awareness of the scholarship fund created in his name.

On Nov. 12, the date of Lowery’s death, TLP held a day of remembrance in Piedmont Park to honor Lowery.

TLP hosted the day of remembrance in Piedmont Park, instead of a venue like Manuel’s Tavern, where it was held last year, to be closer to the community it is serving.

“[Piedmont Park] is just a place that Lee loved,” Webb said.

Devin Gerrard, a junior in the Business and Entrepreneurship academy at Grady, took pictures of the day of remembrance for TLP.

“It was a nice experience for me to get out,” Gerrard said. “Just to celebrate and thank God that Lee is in a happy place.”

At events like the day of remembrance, Webb heard new stories about Lowery from their family and his old friends.

“It’s been a way to heal,” Webb said. “Not only to keep Lee and his memories alive and to help people, but also my therapy.”

Lowery’s death made Webb change her career focus from business to social working. Webb plans to complete the accelerated master program for social work at Georgia State and become a social worker in APS or work in corporate diversity training.

Webb loves Georgia State for many of the same reasons Lowery did.

“It’s the hustle and bustle of being downtown,” Webb said.

Eventually, Webb would like TLP to provide money for a student through all four years at Georgia State or even pay a student’s full tuition.

Webb aims to get as many students from Grady as she can to apply for the scholarship, and she is strengthening the Grady connection through meetings with administrators. Students will apply in Jan. and the scholarships will be awarded in June.

 

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