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Giving philosophy inspires MLK Scholarship winner

Tatiana Britt wants to give back. The Tidewater Community College student who is the recipient of this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Award spent much of her youth watching health professionals care for her father, Clayton, while he was treated for renal failure.

“The nurses, staff, doctors — everyone was always so friendly when he had to spend time in the hospital,” said Britt, who continues to assist her father with his regular dialysis at her family’s home. “They told me they were there because they wanted to see my father get better.”

That philosophy inspired her to study for a career as a physician’s assistant. After Britt graduates from TCC this spring, she will transfer to a four-year school and work toward her master’s. She has applied to the University of North Carolina, Old Dominion University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Christopher Newport University.

The King scholarship holds particular meaning to Britt, given how much she admires the man and his message. “I have shaped my life around the desire to be an individual who makes a difference all over the world like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other great leaders,” she wrote in her scholarship application essay.

“He was courageous,” Britt said. “He wasn’t afraid to step out of his comfort zone. He kept his eyes on the prize and did so peacefully.”

The 2012 graduate of Western Branch High School already has a significant resume of service. Her cousin Wilheimina Long started the organization Youth Matter, a nonprofit that brands itself as a message and a mission dedicated to making a difference in the lives of youth and at-risk females. Britt held the title Miss Youth Matter 2012, making her the national spokesperson and a leader in planning local volunteer activities in nursing homes and children’s hospitals. She started her own dance team, Just Divine, to bring awareness to the organization.

“No matter how busy my life may get, I always have time to spread awareness, empowerment and love just as the great Dr. King did,” she said.

Britt, who holds a 3.8 GPA and is a member of the honor society Phi Theta Kappa at TCC, chose community college to better prepare her for the rigors of university life. Though she’s always been a strong student, she was unsure of a career path and wanted to give herself the time to carefully consider her academic options.

“TCC gave me time to work, time to study, time to think about what I really want,” she said. “I’m much more prepared for the next step than I would have been if I had gone straight into a four-year school.”

Britt is grateful for the scholarship and is especially proud that it is awarded in the name of Dr. King.

“He has had a huge impact on my thoughts and actions,” said Britt, who concluded her scholarship application essay noting, “I promise to make Dr. King, Tidewater Community College and the entire world proud of my accomplishments.”

Tatiana Britt in her own words