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MLK Association of Asheville
"Our LIVES Begin To End The Day
We Become SILENT About Things That MATTER"
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

2022 Youth Scholarship Recipients

On the evening of June 2, the Martin Luther King Association of Asheville and Buncombe County held its annual College Scholarship Ceremony at Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Asheville campus. For the first time in many years, scholarship applicants represented all of Asheville City Schools’ and Buncombe County Schools’ traditional high schools, as well as Buncombe County Early College, Buncombe County Middle College, the School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville (SILSA), and Carolina Day School. Twelve of the applicants received scholarships, which totaled a collective $36,000. Preston Blakely, mayor of Fletcher, provided a keynote speech and Dr. Oralene Simmons, the Association’s president, handed out awards to the students.

Applicants must show how they emulate the Dream and teachings of Dr. King by (a) exhibiting concern for disadvantaged or oppressed people, (b) showing evidence that they have participated in community, civic or school affairs, (c) explaining how they have promoted community betterment, and (d) demonstrating academic success in high school. According to Dr. Michael Dempsey, Martin Luther King Association Board Member and Scholarship Committee Chairperson, 2022 was a banner year for the program. “We had dozens of amazingly inspiring applicants,” he said, “and our team of judges had a very hard time narrowing the group down to 12 winners. The Association is overjoyed to help this year’s awardees pursue their educational and professional goals.”

The awardees were:

  • Lupe Martinez-Hilario (SILSA), who will attend NC State ($7,500 scholarship)
  • Olivia Jones (SILSA), Warren Wilson College ($5,000)
  • Keshawna Moore (Erwin High School), NC Central University ($5,000)
  • Reagan Petto (Reynolds High School), Appalachian State University ($3,500)
  • Karlene Gist (Asheville High School), NC A&T State University ($2,500)
  • Tyler Lewis (Erwin High School), Livingstone College ($2,500)
  • Katie Rudins (Carolina Day School), Furman University ($2,500)
  • Mason Arana (SILSA), UNC Greensboro ($1,500)
  • Itzel Moreno (SILSA), Appalachian State University ($1,500)
  • Zion Mosley (SILSA), NC A&T State University ($1,500)
  • Bailey Mundy (Owen High School), Western Carolina University ($1,500)
  • Maggie Stephenson (Owen High School), Winthrop University ($1,500)

Congratulations to all of these students! To find out more about the Martin Luther King Association’s Scholarship Program, go to, or email

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"The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Association of Asheville and Buncombe County is part of the community, and our community is a diverse gathering of people who all are affected by gun violence and the trauma it creates. Gun violence does not have a regard for race, age or gender. It's a community issue, and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Association will listen, work and contribute to the efforts of those individuals and organizations that have led in wrestling with this issue over a long period of time. We can all work together to make a difference in our community."

-Dr. Oralene Graves Simmons, President,
The Martin Luther King, Jr., Association of Asheville & Buncombe County