D.J.'s Hero Award Winner Spotlight - Amari Walls
Over the past month we have been honoring each of this year’s 15 D.J.’s Hero Award winners. The D.J.’s Hero Scholarships are underwritten by David and Peggy Sokol in loving memory of their son, D.J., who lost his battle with cancer in 1999 at age 18. The awards recognize Nebraska high school seniors who exemplify perseverance and selflessness and who are servant-leaders in their communities. A total of 157 D.J.’s Hero Scholarships have been awarded to Nebraska students over the past 22 years.
Amari Walls – Omaha North High Magnet School, Recipient of the D.J.’s Hero Diesing Family North Omaha Scholarship
“Someday I want to be able to employ minorities who grew up feeling like they didn’t have a place.”
Amari Walls, of Omaha, has persevered through much hardship. As a middle schooler she was the primary caretaker for her infant brother. Today she works two jobs to support herself and to send money to her mother, who is incarcerated. Amari recognizes the challenges created by systemic inequities, as well as the personal challenges she has faced within her own family, and she aspires to be an advocate for and mentor to disadvantaged youth who need positive role models. “Talent may be equally distributed, but opportunity is not,” she says. “Being a first-generation college student will allow me to eventually offer opportunities to others in similar situations.”
In addition to working and excelling in her studies, Amari is a member of the Black Student Leadership Council, a member of College Possible and a talented musician.
“Amari has faced many challenges in her life, and she has always overcome them with grace and positivity,” says her College Possible coach, Emily McGuire. “I have a deep respect for her resilience and her drive to succeed so that she can empower others to do the same.”
Amari will major in business and entrepreneurship at UNL in the fall and aspires to own her own record label someday. “I want to be able to offer opportunities to young black boys and girls like me who have experienced the systemic cycle of parents who are drug addicted, mentally ill or incarcerated,” says Amari. “This scholarship will help me move forward in my education so that I can then push it forward and help others who are hungry for change.”