By Autumn Nichols, Contributing Writer

While social distancing guidelines are still in place to diminish the spread of the Coronavirus, graduation celebrations are not cancelled! Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Kappa Omega Omega Chapter and the Bakersfield Ivy Legacy Foundation, Inc. chose an online forum to host its 41st African American Graduate Scholarship Awards.  

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Kappa Omega Omega Chapter and the Bakersfield Ivy Legacy Foundation, Inc. celebrated the Class of 2020 with the African American Graduation Awards Program virtual presentation on Saturday, May 30, 2020 at 3PM. The program was live on the foundations webpage ( with this year’s theme serving as “Stepping into Greatness-Academic Excellence.” 

During this presentation High School Seniors were acknowledged and received book scholarships donated by the foundation as well as from community members totaling over $400,000. In addition, over 250 Eighth Grade honor roll students were also acknowledged for their achievements at their respective middle schools. 

Since 1979, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Kappa Omega Omega Chapter has hosted an annual Graduation Awards Program to reach out to Kern County African American students preparing to further their education. In 2014, AKA began a partnership with the Bakersfield Ivy Legacy Foundation, Inc. Their program description states that it offers Community Donors who wish to give scholarships to High School graduates a tax-deductible way to contribute. For Junior High and Middle Schools, principals and counselors submit the names of African American honor roll students for recognition.  

Over 100 years ago Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc set out to dedicate their life to service. Their purpose, just like many other African American Greek organizations, as well as community contributors, include: cultivating and encouraging high scholastic and ethical standards, maintaining a progressive interest in college life, and to be of ‘Service to All Mankind’. They are staying true to their mission and once again did not disappoint by recognizing and rewarding many students with aid for their college education during an unprecedented time. 

Linda McKnight, President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Kappa Omega Omega Chapter welcomed graduates, families, and friends by stating, “Yes it is in virtual format due to covid-19 but regardless of the format, our honored graduates’ accomplishments deserve due recognition.” She makes mention that these necessary precautions were to ensure safety. McKnight goes on to give an uplifting statement to convey this year’s theme. “In spite of what’s happening around us, we press on! We encourage you to keep stepping into greatness.”

Diane McClanahan, the Scholarship Committee chair greeted students with this bold statement: “Because the world stage brought about a pause to what we’ve known as normal, you’ve had to readapt with the challenge of opening and operating in an outside-of-the-box academic experience. Your hard work and success while managing your personal and life experiences as well as navigating the unusual issues facing our world makes it even more important to acknowledge your resilience and most honored and outstanding accomplishments.”  

Demonstrating core values, Harriet Edwards, Chaplin of Alpha Kappa Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Kappa Omega Omega Chapter, gave a special word of prayer. Additional speakers included Raquell Jones, president of Ivy Legacy Foundation Inc. and Scholarship Committee sorority members Shirley Gordon and Ashley Davis

The Class of 2020 may not be in an auditorium or large stadium amongst mass numbers of people but virtually, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Kappa Omega Omega Chapter and the Bakersfield Ivy Legacy Foundation, Inc. provided the perfect avenue to present academic scholarships. Not only were deserving African American students recognized for their accomplishments, but they were rewarded for their adaptability and dedication in keeping up with their academics on a global platform.

AKA BILF Scholarship Awards

Norma Boyd Memorial Award, Scholastic Achievement Award, Dr. Caren Floyd Memorial Scholarship, Rochelle Butler Memorial Award, Velaska Hunt Carter Memorial Award, Susianna Anderson Book Scholarship, Alpha kappa Alpha Book Scholarship, Soror’s Child Scholarship, A.S.C.E.N.D. Scholarship, Miss Fashionetta Participant Scholarship, Miss Fashionetta Scholarship. 

AKA Community Donor Awards 

Pam Baugher Award, Gwendolyn Johnson Award, Dr. Will G. Kelley Award, Brent & Diane McClanahan Scholarship Award, McKnight Family Award, Lueether Ward Community Service Award, Arthur Ward Ethics Achievement Award. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Award, Dr. Joseph Anderson Memorial Scholarship, Lt. Paul Bradford Memorial Scholarship, Irma Carson Scholarship, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Award, Ruben & Vera Ford Memorial Scholarship, Shirley Gordon Scholarship, Harlem and Beyond Scholarship, CB Hodge Memorial Scholarship, Ruby Kelley Scholarship, Ronnie and Holly Mitchell Scholarship, Robert & Ruscel Reader Scholarship.