Future leaders—10 Birmingham seniors receive the Memorial Scholarship

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The scholarship recipients were met with a warm congratulation committee from the JLB. Photo courtesy of the Junior League of Birmingham

After months of diligent hard work, they finally heard the news. The Junior League of Birmingham (JLB) awarded 10 Birmingham seniors the Memorial Scholarship. As they head off to schools across the country, their impact on Birmingham won’t be forgotten.

Leading a legacy of women

Memorial Scholarship
Isabel Elkus of Mountain Brook High School is awarded the Junior League of Birmingham’s Memorial Scholarship at a socially-distant celebration. Photo courtesy of the Junior League of Birmingham.

Sure, receiving any scholarship is great, but this one isn’t quite like the others. The Memorial Scholarship is an investment in tomorrow’s leaders and if the future is up to these ladies, I think we’ll be in good hands.

Take Isabel Elkus, a 2020 Memorial Scholarship recipient, for example. She spends her days volunteering at the Greater Birmingham Humane society or running a tight ship as co-editor in chief of her high school newspaper.

With plans to attend University of California, Los Angeles this fall, out-of-state aid and scholarships are hard to come by. So, receiving help from the JLB is not only a big deal, but it also speaks to who Birmingham is.

“The Birmingham community is so tight-knit, we really are looking out for one another. I think women looking out for women is also extremely important and the Junior League of Birmingham is a major proponent for that motivation for our city.”

Isabel Elkus, Mountain Brook High School
Alysha Kanjiyani will be taking her talents to University of Southern California in the fall. Photo courtesy of the Junior League of Birmingham.

Deserving young women in the Birmingham area receive the scholarship to support the volunteer and leadership potential of Birmingham’s women. For scholarship recipient Anna Harris, serving others is in the family genes.

“Both of my parents work in occupations that serve others. My mom is a teacher and my dad is a member of the 117th Air Refueling Wing in Birmingham.Our family is all about serving others, and this scholarship will help me continue their legacy of the community over self.

Anna Harris, Corner High School

Intellectual capital is one of Birmingham’s most valuable resources

As Claire Vaughn, JLB Scholarship Chair, sifted through the applications of so many extraordinary women like Anna and Isabel, she felt the effect of what she was choosing.

“When I look up and see the committee of women sitting around the table reading these same applications, it is hard not to be struck by the impact those women have had on our community.

It feels as though you are looking at the future. Our hope is that the recipients of the Memorial Scholarship will use this opportunity to dig deep into their educational experience so that they can continue to make a difference.

Claire Vaughn, JLB Scholarship Chair

You have to understand that the recipients have already done important and impressive work for Birmingham. Now, they have the ability to run with that ingenuity thanks to the scholarship. With any luck, they’ll bring their talents right back here to the Magic City.

I imagine one day, probably not in the so distant future, there will be past Memorial Scholarship recipients sitting around the table serving on the Scholarship Selection Committee as members of the Junior League themselves, helping to support the next generation of strong Birmingham women.

Claire Vaughn

More on the Memorial Scholarship recipients

Memorial Scholarship recipient
Among many other efforts, Anna also works at the Bagley Fire Department as a volunteer EMT. She plans to pursue a degree in nursing. Photo courtesy of the Junior League of Birmingham.

It’s not as simple as checking a box or filling in a couple of lines—the applicants give it everything they’ve got when applying for the scholarship. Each candidate made remarkable contributions in their schools, neighborhoods, and communities through volunteer work. To say the candidates are happy when they find out they are awarded the scholarship is an understatement.

The recipients are thrilled when they find out they have been selected. Our application involves three different essays and at least two recommendation letters in addition to school transcripts and a resume.

Claire Vaughn

Phew—imagine piling that on your ever-growing plate as a high school senior. Now add an international pandemic—these young women are Birmingham rock stars.

Junior League of Birmingham
Big balloons for big dreams! Photo courtesy of the Junior League of Birmingham

Now, they’re heading off to their dream schools like Alysha Kanjiyani, who is attending the University of Southern California this fall. Although her amazing volunteer efforts at the Ismaili Center and through UAB Medicine’s Teen Volunteer Program led her to receive the scholarship this year, it’s her faith that plays a pivotal role in her service to our community.

“I am extremely excited for this next chapter of my life, and I wouldn’t have made it without the constant support of the Birmingham community.

It amazes me to see how people you don’t even know are supporting your dreams and rooting for you to reach for the stars. I am so lucky to be part of such a wonderful community.”

Alysha Kanjiyani, Hoover High School


We want to extend a huge HOORAH to the Memorial Scholarship recipients and all graduating seniors. Let’s keep making Birmingham look good!

More good news to come! Follow the JLB on Instagram and Facebook to see how else they’re involved in Birmingham’s community.

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