2021 Scholarship Recipient

Keniya Beckwith

2021 All-Star Scholarship Recipient

Where are you from, where are you going to school, and have you chosen a major?

I am originally from Washington, DC and lived in the DC/Virginia area for most of my life. I now live in Raleigh, North Carolina. I’m excited to say I will be attending North Carolina State University – Go Wolfpack!  

I plan to have a double major in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies with a minor in Spanish.

How did you find out about the UMPS CARE All-Star College Scholarship?

I found out about the scholarship through research I was doing on scholarships for youth that have been in foster care. I actually thought it was a writing scholarship because there were a lot of essays, but I am glad to have found it.

Can you talk a bit about what this scholarship means to you and your education?

My biggest motivator to get a college education is myself! One of my biggest motivators for getting a higher education is my biological mom. She was attending the University of Maryland, studying Mathematics and Engineering but was not able to finish. I want to break the generational cycle of not being able to complete a college education. I am a young African American girl, it is very important to me to accomplish that. I want to be a doctor of mental health and help other marginalized people. I’m not just doing this for me, I’m doing it for dozens of people I plan to serve in the future.


What are some of your interests/passions? 

I love writing, cooking and activism. I recently took a creative writing class and won second place in the state for a short story.

Do you have any pets?

YES! I have a dog, a little Yorkie named Pinto. I am devastated to be leaving Pinto behind but I know my mom will spoil him. He is her favorite child.

Tell me about your family and your adoption story.

I was put into foster care at the age of 2. I was with 10 or 11 families throughout my time in foster care. I moved around every year or two changing houses and changing schools. It was challenging. 

I found my forever home in 2016.  I was officially adopted in 2018 when I was 14 years old. My family consists of myself, my mom and my grandma (a very maternal family). They were amazing and supportive, even before I was adopted. When I was being fostered I knew these were my people. My mom got me into activism and volunteering my time services. My family is everything to me. I am so proud to be a part of their legacy.

How did you manage all that bouncing around? How did you get through that?

I am a very spiritual person, I think that God has granted me with a lot of resilience and a lot of forethought. When you see someone so close to you that was not afforded certain opportunities, it inspires you to do the best YOU can and be thankful for the opportunities YOU have been given. I was lucky to be placed with caring people throughout my time in foster care, even though things didn’t work out with other families. I am now part of a very strong and stable family, which helps. I am a big advocate for mental health, I’m actively going to therapy so I can be a good member of my family and society.

How has being adopted shaped your goals for the future?

I would say that it shaped my goals because I was shown kindness and love from strangers that many people don’t experience. Especially being adopted as an older child, it’s a different experience. I chose to take and accept, it helped my goals because I am always aiming to model myself after my family. 

I am really infatuated with mental health, how, in our society marginalized people are most in need but have the hardest time accessing mental health support. Because of all the opportunities I was given, I want to make sure I am passing those opportunities on to others. I am motivated by two amazing women, my biological mom and my adopted mom. 

My biological mom is currently homeless right now. I reach out every few months to make sure she is OK. When I am established, I want to create a fund to help her.

Is there anything you want to share with the UMPS CARE community?

This (scholarship) means a lot to me. I’m so thankful. I’ve had a lot of struggles in my life, obviously, but I really do think I have the potential to have a bright future and you are helping me attain that, and that means the world to me. I’m so grateful that you guys chose to invest in me. I’m so blessed. This scholarship means the world to me, and I am beyond grateful. I hope I make you proud.

Hear Keniya in her own words in this VIDEO below!