Mo’Nazia Sowells: Scholarship helps fund nursing dreams

May 7, 2024

Mo’Nazia Sowells (right) pictured with her grandmother

Since Mo’Nazia Sowells found out she was accepted into the competitive nursing program at the University of South Carolina, she’s felt a mixture of excitement and nerves.

“I’m ready for it, and I know I’m capable of doing it,” said Sowells, a sophomore from Dillon. “I just have to be disciplined. This is what I came to school for.”

Mo’Nazia is a Meeting Street Scholarship recipient who’s on track to earn her degree by May 2026. Her dream of becoming a nurse has been shaped by three women: her mother, her grandmother and her great-grandmother.

Her mother instilled in her the drive to pursue an education, and her grandmother and great-grandmother helped her find her calling.

When Mo’Nazia was growing up, her grandmother and great-grandmother lived in the same house, and both were a constant presence in her life. She would stay with them while her mother worked or took night classes.

Mo’Nazia’s grandmother helped care for her great-grandmother, and as the latter’s health deteriorated, Mo’Nazia did more and more to help.

“I imagine that most teenagers might pull away from the chance to help their great-grandmother get around, to remind her about her medication, to bathe their great-grandma and help her get dressed,” she said. “But for me, the experience felt natural and fulfilling.”

After her great-grandmother passed, Mo’Nazia again took on the role of caregiver, this time for her grandmother. It was through both experiences that she knew she wanted to pursue a career in nursing.

Mo’Nazia credits the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund with helping her afford her dream.

“I still remember the day that Dr. Harriet Jackson, my guidance counselor at Dillon High School, invited me and a few other seniors to her office and told us about the Meeting Street Scholarship,” she said. “I remember thinking to myself that this simply couldn’t be true, that Dr. Jackson had gotten it wrong – that’s how rare an opportunity like this is in Dillon. To put it plainly, opportunities like the Meeting Street Scholarship don’t often come to Dillon, even for students who have put in the work.”

Mo’Nazia has overheard as others talk about student loans, and she’s grateful that she will graduate from college without any debt, thanks to the Meeting Street Scholarship.

“I don’t have to worry about tuition or food or really anything,” she said. “That does help a whole lot.”

She already has taken some of what she’s learned in her college classes and used it to benefit her family’s health, and she said she looks forward to doing more of that in the future.

“I’m on the right track of what my passion is and what I want to do with my degree,” she said. “It’s all about helping people.”