Asha Davis of Winter Garden, Florida, was recently awarded a Vitas Gerulaitis Memorial Scholarship from Chris Evert and the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida. The Vitas Gerulaitis Memorial Scholarships are awarded each year to women who have participated in social service programs offered by the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida. This scholarship program has empowered dozens of women to improve their lives, and the lives of their children, by allowing them to pursue their educational goals.
Raised by a single mom until she was 14, Asha witnessed firsthand how difficult it is for a young woman to raise a family on her own. When her mom eventually married, Asha was happy for her, though she knew living with her stepfather would be a big adjustment. In 2012, at the age of 18, she moved to Orlando to attend Valencia College. She didn't have a place to live so she moved from house to house, sleeping on the couches of friends and relatives in the Orlando area.
Asha became an intern at Harvest Baptist Church and her hard work soon landed her a job with the City of Orlando Parramore Kidz Zone. There she participated in their youth development and career exploration components. However, Asha was still homeless. She started suffering from depression and struggled to figure out what she wanted to do with her life.
In September 2014, she found out she was pregnant and feared her dreams of an education and a better life were over. Her supervisor encouraged her to enroll in the Parramore Baby Institute program. She began in January of this year and had perfect attendance during the 9-week, 54-hour course. Parramore Baby Institute helps participants build knowledge and skills that result in better parenting and improved parent/child interaction which contributes to better school outcomes for their children. The guidance she received from her instructors and the encouragement of other moms in the program helped Asha realize that she wanted to pursue a career path that would enable her to help others. Now, thanks to her scholarship, she can pursue her goals.
Asha finished her associate degree at Valencia this month and transfers to the University of Central Florida in January where she will study sociology. She hopes to eventually become a social worker so she can build a better life for herself and her 6-month-old son Jerad while also helping others in her community.