Savannah 100 Foundation awards four Judge Eugene Gadsden scholarships

Sarah Abdelrahim of Rincon will leave Savannah later this month for a month in Costa Rica where she will study Spanish as part of her career plan to become a lawyer and make a difference here.

A rising junior at the University of West Georgia, she is a three-time recipient of the Savannah 100 Foundation Inc. Gadsden Memorial Scholarship for budding lawyers.

And she is one of four area students to receive the 2019 scholarship designed to help reach their goals.

Joining her this year were:

• Mecca Aikens, a sophomore at Mercer University. She was a 2018 Gadsden scholar.

• Nykobe Richardson, a graduating senior at Woodville-Tompkins High School who plans to attend Georgia College and State University

• Alexis Williamson, a graduating senior at Savannah Arts Academy who plans to attend Duke University on a merit scholarship in the fall.

Abdelrahim, a 2017 graduate of South Effingham High School, said she is majoring in philosophy which requires completion of a four-level foreign language study.

“I have never traveled outside of the country, but at the University of West Georgia, the opportunity presented itself,” she said. “I will be visiting Costa Rica, which will help me in my goal of becoming a citizen of the world by teaching me to learn to adapt to other cultures, such as the Costa Rican culture, by learning the language and being able to use it in my career as an attorney.

“The Savannah 100 Foundation has helped me an enormous amount financially. The scholarship funds that I have received have helped me finance my education towards helping pay for tuition and books. Along with that, the Savannah 100 Foundation has given me a mentor, Lloyd Johnson, who has helped pave the way for me.”

Johnson, a retired career prosecutor and president of the Savannah 100 Foundation Inc., announced creation of the scholarship fund in 2017 to add incentives to the Court’s in Session mentoring program for middle and high school students, some of whom wanted to become lawyers.

The scholarships provide $2,000 and mentoring to students who intend to become lawyers who will use the law as a vehicle to improve the quality of life in Savannah.

They are renewable throughout the student’s entire college career or up to $8,000.

The foundation is an outgrowth of the 100 Black Men of Savannah Inc. and functions as an independent entity.

The foundation’s scholarship program also memorializes the civic and legal contributions of the late Judge Gadsden.

A Savannah native, Gadsden was Chatham County’s first black Superior Court judge when he was appointed in 1979 at age 67. He remained on the bench until he retired in 1992.

Gadsden also was a major player in the local civil rights movement, working then with Savannah Branch National Association for the Advancement of Colored People president W.W. Law and providing legal guidance to the local NAACP branch.

Later, as a judge, Gadsden was known for treating those appearing before him with patience and sense of fairness.

Johnson said a local court official reminded him that if you appeared before Gadsden, “You knew you were going to get a fair shake.”

The foundation aimed to address both the scarcity of minority attorneys in Savannah and to add incentives to Court’s in Session legal mentoring program.

Johnson said that in addition to the monetary support, the the group provides a full mentoring program including preparation for the LSAT test required for admission to law school.

“These are the leaders of tomorrow and the foundation wants that to happen,” he said.