Change for the community: Nadia Niang and Lacorya Lynn exemplify success through volunteer work, advocacy

Winners of the USF Black Alumni Association’s MLK scholarship Nadia Niang (middle left) and Lacorya Lynn (middle right) were awarded the honor for their community work. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/USF ALUMNI ASSOCIATION

This story is part of a continuing series that features Black leaders at USF during Black Heritage Month.

As Nadia Niang ate lunch one day, a casual peek at her email would make her day as she found out she was one of two recipients of the USF Black Alumni Association’s MLK scholarship.

“I was very happy. I was actually at the Hub, eating and I looked at my email,” said Niang. “I was astonished and so grateful to have this honor.”

Every year, the USF Black Alumni Association recognizes two students enrolled at the Tampa campus who best represent the philosophies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to receive the $1,000 scholarship.

Freshman biology major Niang and sophomore psychology major Lacorya Lynn were announced the spring 2022 recipients on Jan. 11. They both exemplified King’s beliefs through their work and dedication to their communities, as well as being full-time students with 3.0 GPAs or higher.

Niang said she has been inspired by King to take action in her community. She lends a hand at the Salvation Army, as well as picks up hurricane debris and cleans beaches along the coast of Florida.

She believes the scholarship will let her continue pursuing her goal to become a pediatrician and continue to help the community through work with patients. She also appreciates that it allows her to contribute to her tuition costs.

“It will inspire me to help my community, to further my education and be able to become a doctor and help with the health care disparity,” said Niang. “We will help people that don’t really have the best way of getting medical help.”

Someone Niang has looked up to for her entire life is her mother, Nodia. Niang said her mother has always pushed her to be the best version of herself.

Nodia said she is proud of all the volunteer work her daughter has done for the community such as feeding the homeless, making food baskets for retirees and helping mentor young ladies.

“Nadia has always had a giving heart. I am so proud of this remarkable beautiful lady, inside and out,” said Nodia. “Nadia finds ways to help make the community and better the community one involvement step at a time.”

Lynn found out she received the scholarship while at work, immediately telling one of her coworkers first. Shortly after, she informed her mom of the news.

She also earned the scholarship through her dedication to her local community and perseverance through personal hardships.

After her father passed away while she was in ninth grade, Lynn’s mom, Virginia, helped her through her mental health struggles and worked to create awareness for the importance of teen mental health. She has consistently volunteered and helped her community since then.

“Not only did we get younger people involved, but we got parents and school officials involved as well,” said Lynn. “We wanted to make a statement that teenage mental health is important and we need everyone on board.”

While still in high school, she was involved in volunteering opportunities through the Black Student Union (BSU) as the event coordinator.

“We organized events such as road cleanup, soup kitchen, volunteering and car washes,” said Lynn.

After leaving the BSU her junior year of high school, she went on to volunteer with Kids Count, a non-profit organization that used to provide support to students in need at a local elementary school. She stopped volunteering with Kids Count in March 2020 when the pandemic began and schools switched to online learning.

Volunteering has always been something she has loved, and Lynn said she intends to continue to help her community.

Lynn is currently involved in Dream Defenders, a youth advocacy group, and Community Spring, a non-profit organization centered around fighting for a world without prisons, policing, surveillance and punishment.

Virginia motivated Lynn to give back to her community by volunteering, organizing events and helping her get through her personal hardships, especially after losing her father.

“She’s helped me with advocating for [different causes], trying to make a change and being the change that we want to see in this world,” said Lynn.

Lynn said she hopes to become a psychologist who will be helping the incarcerated and homeless people.

“I really like those two demographics because I feel like they’re left out of a lot of the conversation,” she said. “I want to help those people and show them that things get better and that their feelings and struggles are valid.”

Lynn currently takes all of her classes online and plans to use the scholarship money to help with the living expenses she is going to have next fall as she plans to move to Tampa.

“Lacorya is very passionate about helping underserved members in the community, especially children,” said Virginia. “[She] has overcome a lot of adversity in her short time and that would make her an excellent candidate to help others.”

Virginia feels Lynn is an excellent choice for the scholarship due to her volunteer work and her positive attitude.

“What I admire most about Lacorya is her tenacity, resilience, passion to help others and desire for happiness in spite of all the obstacles she has faced,” she said.

Lynn and Niang plan to continue helping the community and exemplifying King’s beliefs and dreams through their volunteer work and with their future careers.

“I love being involved in my community,” said Lynn. “My whole life is just about helping other people thrive.”