Kwaun Strong Memorial Scholarship

The Kwaun Strong Memorial Scholarship is created to honor Melvin “Kwaun” Strong and to raiseawareness on drunk driving and the need for justice for victims, their families, and loves ones.

Applicants interested in the scholarship are required to review and respond to the Narrative written by establishing donor, Dr. William James, Spanish Lecturer:

“Melvin ‘Kwaun’ Strong was a student in my second-semester Spanish course at Sac State in the fall of 2016. He was one of my favorite students. On December 24, 2018, a drunk driver took Kwaun’s life at 18th and I Streets in Sacramento. Kwaun was just 28 years old. When Kwaun was my student, he was a junior majoring in Kinesiology (later, he changed majors to Food and Nutrition).

I mourn Kwaun and want to honor his memory with a scholarship. Kwaun was a fine young man: respectful, charismatic, and full of gumption. He would come to my office hours, and we would talk. So, I got to know him well. As a side business, Kwaun sold customized baseball hats and gave me one. I was looking him up to buy a new hat when I first learned of his death. That was on Monday, June 28, 2021. I felt numb with shock. Then, two days later, I cried for the first time.

The last time that I saw Kwaun was when our paths happened to cross in a parking garage at Sac State in the spring of 2018. Six months later, a drunk driver would take his life. The driver survived. He is awaiting trial in jail now, with bail set at $1 million. This DUI followed at least five prior ones. When he hit Kwaun, he was fleeing the police in a stolen car, driving at 88 mph in a 25-mph zone. I have a daughter. That could have been her whom he killed.

Kwaun touched my heart. He touched many hearts. His mother Kowana has told me how Kwaun was a role model for his younger brother. She has told me how he would volunteer to tutor kids in the neighborhood. Kowana calls Kwaun her ’angel.’ Kwaun dreamed of one day hanging his diploma on the wall next to hers (Kowana is an RN). Dr. Chris Smith, Kwaun’s former principal and football coach, loved Kwaun ‘like a son’ and mourns him still.

Kwaun had just a short time left to graduate. He had a bright future, and we have lost a rising star. My sole consolation is that Providence must have let this all happen for some greater good. My hope is that, through DUI awareness, the Kwaun Strong Memorial Scholarship could be part of that greater good. Thank you.”

Supplemental Questions
  1. Review the narrative written by Professor James in order to submit a 250 word statement related to Kwaun’s story statement can be written on any topic related to the narrative. Examples include but not limited to – DUI awareness, meaning of justice, and that could have been me.
  2. Are you involved with the Cooper-Woodson College Enhancement Program, Black Student Union, or Martin Luther King Jr. Scholars Program?