Scholarship Winners!

Meet our deserving winners, read their bios and leave a few words of encouragement.

= multi-year scholarships awarded!

Kamya Williams

Winter Haven High School


University of Florida

2022 AAO Scholarship Winner

It was the second meet of the season and the judge shouted “130 3rd” and I knew it was my turn. It was my final attempt. No more chances after that. I darted my hand up so the judge knew that I was there. I stepped up on the platform with my heart thumping hard because I had tried to get 130 pounds for months now. I tried so hard to achieve it, it was me versus me. I was my own competition and the time had come for me to give it my all. I took a deep breath and tuned out the chanting from my friends and family, it was something I always did before ever touching the bar. I took two immense stomps to maintain my balance and grounding. I caused the whole platform to shake and finally squatted down and gripped the bar with all my might.

I pulled the weight up to my thighs and thrusted my hips through the bar. I stood up tall and broad holding the weight on my shoulders. I took a sharp inhale. I had gotten through phase one of lifting 130 pounds. I examined the crowd to see my family on the edge of their seats while recording and my friends squatting on the ground in awe. There was no sound in the room, the drop of a pen could be heard. It was now time for the second phase (the last phase) and it was a matter of seconds before I failed my final attempt. The judge rose from his chair and threw up his hand cueing me to jerk the bar. I jerked the bar above my head as he dropped his hand. He put a thumbs down and shouted “no lift”, my arms pressed out in the midst of jerking the bar.  I dropped the bar and instantly felt a pit in my stomach. I was shocked that I did not conquer the invincible 130 pounds after working so hard. I was so distraught I did not even want to know where I placed on the scoreboard. I felt that if I could not even achieve lifting 130 pounds then I lost the meet entirely. If I did beat someone else it did not matter because I lost against myself, my own competition.

It was my first year of being on the Girls Weightlifting team. It was my first year of being on any sports team in high school. My weight made it more challenging. I always struggled with my weight, which is why I had never been on any high school sports team. However, I thought this was yet another activity or challenge I could achieve, and unfortunately, I was wrong. This was the experience that taught me that failure was the first step to my success. I thought weightlifting was strictly about lifting weights. But I learned it was a mental sport and much more. I woke up at 5 am every morning and made sure I was at 6 am practice where I constantly worked and worked. That hard work allowed me to get 5th place in counties, 3rd place at districts, and 6th place in regionals in my weight class.

A new era had begun for me. This personal accomplishment helped me grow in the areas of self-discipline, confidence, and time management. There were times that I thought my body could not withstand the weight and pressure I felt during training and competition. There were times I felt like giving up but by creating a positive mindset, being patient with myself, and persevering through the pain, I was able to understand what self-discipline truly means. Discovering my new abilities and strength allowed me to gain confidence in my self-image and self-worth. I became comfortable wearing the skin-tight uniforms at the weightlifting competitions without feeling the need to cover up.

That period of personal growth is because of an obstacle I overcame which allowed me to understand that my willpower is bigger than any obstacle I will ever face, even those 130 pounds.

This scholarship will help me pursue my college and career goals without worrying about finances. Coming from a single-parent household with six children has been very hard on my family. With the near-death experience my mom recently had, she is still not able to work and provide for our family as much as we need. With an expected family contribution of 0 on my FAFSA, I know that scholarships are the only way I would be able to work towards paying for college and getting into my dream career. My grandmother is retired and has been taking care of my great-grandmother for the past year due to her stomach cancer. As of February 14th, she passed away and my family struggled to cover her burial expenses and final resting wishes. Due to my grandmother being retired and having to cover my great-grandmother’s burial expenses she cannot help me financially for college. I do not want my college education to be a financial burden on my family. I am in need of financial assistance and being granted this scholarship would help liftsome of that burden and help me pay for my education.


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Lakeland FL 33813

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