When high school senior Zach Karpovich asked his college counselor to write him a letter of recommendation for the Coca‑Cola Scholarship, he apologized for wasting their time, thinking he never stood a chance.
Now, Karpovich will join 149 socially conscious, service-minded leaders and innovators in Atlanta this week as recipients of the $20,000 scholarship.
Furthermore, among the 2018 scholars, all with impressive track records of leadership and community activism, two students – Zach Karpovich and Lal Lawmi – stood out as most embodying the qualities of the scholarship program. For this, they will be recognized at the 2018 Coca‑Cola Scholars weekend, kicking off April 19 with a Scholars banquet.
Emmett Conrad High School’s Lal Lawmi moved to Dallas, Texas from India in 2014 without knowing English. Four years later, she graduates among the top of her class, with plans to study biochemistry at the University of Texas – Austin, before she pursues her ultimate goal of becoming a pediatrician.
Pediatrics is close to Lawmi’s heart, as she lost two of her brothers to malaria in their rural home in India, where they lived as refugees after fleeing their native-home of Burma to escape political persecution. In 2009, her father also passed away, solidifying Lawmi’s commitment to study healthcare.
As a high school student, Lawmi built her English language skills through her involvement in clubs and organizations. She quickly became a leader among her peers, particularly in her choir, where other students faced language and cultural barriers. Lawmi began providing tutoring, increasing attendance at practices and expanding membership. She also sought to increase the number of diverse young women in leadership roles in her community. As a result she helped found Diamond and Pearls, a group that empowers women not only to have big dreams but to pursue them.
For these efforts, The Coca‑Cola Scholars Foundation will recognize Lawmi as the 2018 Crawford Johnson III Most Inspirational Scholar. The Coca‑Cola Scholarship is the brainchild of Johnson, the scholarship program’s founding chairman, who believed that education was essential to developing leadership for the next generation..
Though he has since passed away, Johnson’s family will attend the Coca‑Cola Scholars banquet, during which Lawmi and her fellow scholars will be recognized.
Walker Johnson Jones, Crawford Johnson III’s daughter, reflects, “Our family could not be more touched than by having Coca‑Cola Scholars select an extraordinary young woman like Lal Lawmi to receive this scholarship in my father’s name. Her commitment to family, school and her community – filled with compassion and humility – is consistent with what my father lived every day and the attributes he believed were at the core of the Coca‑Cola Scholars.”
When Zach Karpovich of Rye, New York, was 11 years old, his father abandoned the family, liquidating their assets. His family, based in an otherwise affluent community, suddenly had no access to money for food or basic necessities.
To cope with their food insecurity, they began the Bread of Life Food Rescue & Pantry out of their basement, which now feeds 10,000 people weekly in Westchester County and has brought a greater awareness to hunger issues to his local community.
In an effort to support the food pantry, Karpovich began a business selling consignment clothing online. Selling clothing that would have otherwise been discarded, Karpovich created a funding stream for the food pantry, while donating unsold clothes to charity.
Karpovich’s work minimizing food and clothing waste inspired his passion for the environment, leading him to found Rye High School’s environmental and hunger outreach clubs. Upon graduation, he plans to attend Yale University where he wants to learn the skills necessary to make a career in renewable energy. While at Yale, he also hopes to tackle food insecurity issues in the local community.
For this work, Karpovich will be named the inaugural 2018 Claude Nielsen Most Impactful Community Service Scholar. Claude Nielsen, Chairman of Coca‑Cola Bottling Company United, who also served as chairman of Coca‑Cola Scholars for eight years, will join Karpovich as he receives this recognition.
He reflects, “Each year, I am amazed and inspired by the service, leadership and achievements of those selected to be Coca‑Cola Scholars and this year is no exception.” He continues, “Zachary Karpovich, whose entrepreneurial spirit, extraordinary character and service for those less fortunate, is an inspiration to us all, and I am humbled and honored that he is the recipient of a scholarship in my name.”
Lawmi and Karpovich will join the ranks of more than 6,000 Coca‑Cola scholars from the past 30 years. Both look forward to embracing this network of supportive and innovative individuals.
When Crawford T. Johnson III announced the creation of the Coca‑Cola Scholars program in 1986, he declared, “The benefits of this program will come from the positive actions of a continuous stream of intelligent and deserving young people whose training, understanding and vision will enable them to play a vital part in shaping the future of this nation.”
Current President of the Coca‑Cola Scholars Foundation, Mark Davis, says, “30 years into that stream, I think the scholarship’s founders would be amazed at what this would become.”
Reflecting on Lawmi, Karpovich and 30 years of Coca‑Cola Scholars, he concludes, “They would be extraordinarily pleased with where we ended up.”