In 2016, Kadian Townsend ’22 and her brother Clayon founded the Townsend Foundation to provide financial assistance for students who have faced challenges like those she and her brother faced in achieving their educational goals. This year, the Townsend siblings awarded the scholarship to Natalie Padilla, a graduate of Uniondale High School in New York where Kadian graduated in 2011 and Clayon in 2009. Padilla will have her book expenses covered during her freshman year at Stony Brook University where she will study nursing.
The sister and brother duo were inspired to create the foundation and its award to give back after successfully overcoming their own higher educational funding concerns as immigrants who did not qualify for financial aid. In a feature by her undergraduate alma mater John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Townsend said college was an “out-of-pocket expense” for them. The Townsend scholarship is their way of working to ensure students do not have to forgo their educational dreams due to a lack of resources.
Paying it forward is at the heart of the scholarship and the young founders’ intentions, which is reflected in the application process. To apply, students write an essay detailing their challenges and how they have overcome them thus far, and they must also describe their plans for making a positive impact on others in the future.
In addition to helping with book expenses during freshman year, the Foundation also provides recipients an opportunity for mentorship from students and young professionals who have navigated similar obstacles. Kadian and Clayon do not rely only on their own experiences to provide that guidance to Townsend scholars. Townsend explained that past scholarship recipients have been eager to mentor the next generation of awardees in navigating their social, academic and professional endeavors.
Townsend reflected on the reason for and impact of the scholarship. “I believe education is the key to mobility. Education has afforded me many life opportunities and has helped me navigate and rise above my challenges. I am so proud that, through the Townsend Scholarship, I have been able to help underserved youth in their pursuit of higher education. Since 2016, the Scholarship has assisted high school seniors who have matriculated schools all across the nation, including Princeton University, Stony Brook University and various CUNY and SUNY colleges. As I start my legal career, I hope to build a legacy of practicing law, promoting justice and changing lives through philanthropic endeavors.”