"Fort Polk is vital to the area. We hope to unite
the installation and the surrounding communities
to care for its soldiers and their families. It's our
-Michael Reese, Fort Polk Progress President
VPSB Graduate Receives $232,000 scholarship
As part of its Education Initiative, Fort Polk Progress congratulates Pickering High School graduate Abdul Latif Armiyaw, who has earned a full scholarship to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine where he will major in biology and pre-med. The private school's tuition is $45,000 annually. His $58,000 a year scholarship is valued at $232,000.
Latif finished Pickering High School with a 3.9 grade point average.
Armiyaw's road to Vernon Parish started in Ghana on the West coast of Africa. Latif, as he is called by family and friends, came to America in 2011 and enrolled in the Vernon Parish School District when his father, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Ishaq A. Mohammed returned from a deployment in Afghanistan.
As a new student from a foreign land Latif, who is an American citizen, faced many hurdles acclimating to his new home but found the people in Leesville and Vernon Parish hospitable.
'When I first arrived I was a little apprehensive but the people were very welcoming,' Armiyaw said. 'I found it easy to adapt to life in Vernon Parish. They gave me a chance to show them who I was as an individual and what I could do. I have developed some great social relationships in Pickering and Leesville. I became very comfortable there.'
The transition was not always smooth, but Latif persevered and with the encouragement of his instructors and coaches became an
outstanding student, citizen and athlete.
'I had to work hard at Pickering,' he said. 'The academics were very rigorous. But I worked hard and everything worked well.'
Latif enrolled in Advanced Placement or AP classes, his senior year, taking advanced classes in biology, calculus, chemistry and English. Vernon Parish high schools offer these courses and encourage student enrollment. The courses, which are extremely challenging, illustrate to college admissions officers that a student is ready for college-level work.
Aside from academics, Latif was also heavily involved in extracurricular activities. He served as president of the Science Club and was also a member of Student-to-Student counseling; the Senior Beta Club a national invitational organization; and the all-district football team.
Last year, he participated in the A-HEC of a Summer Program, an opportunity for high school students to explore career opportunities by 'hands-on' participation as a volunteer in a local medical facility for 15 days. Latif, who wants to be a doctor, shadowed doctors at Byrd Regional Hospital located in Leesville and obtained CPR certification, first aid training, and academic credit.
'I haven't decided where I am going to medical school,' Latif said. 'I will attend any one I am admitted to in the U.S. I am also looking into the U.S. Army Medical Corps program.'
After medical school he wants to return to Vernon Parish.
'I plan on coming back to Vernon Parish after medical school to start a practice and to raise a family,' said Latif, who is now residing in Fayetteville, Georgia. 'It is an excellent community.'
Fort Polk Progress is a regional community organization that takes a proactive stance toward Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) by maintaining relationships and partnering with decision makers in Congress, at the Pentagon and at the state level, ensuring that the most up to date information concerning Fort Polk and the surrounding communities is used in decisions concerning the base. In addition, Fort Polk Progress actively markets the base to the military as the most cost effective place to provide soldiers with the best training possible and strives to help ensure the best possible quality of life for soldiers, civilians and their families. Most recently, Fort Polk Progress has spear-headed an Education Initiative, which acknowledges exceptional educational achievements in the region and pursues continued excellence in education for military families throughout the region.