Scholarship recipients Charmir Akins and Josiah Turner stand alongside OPRC Chairman Wayne Pierce (from left), Director Nancy Leavy, and OPRF District 200 Superintendent Greg Johnson. (Provided)

The Oak Park Residence Corporation (OPRC), the public-private nonprofit which owns and manages hundreds of Oak Park apartments which are home to people of all incomes, recently awarded $2,000 scholarships to two young people who are residents of their buildings. 

Charmir Akins and Josiah Turner, both of whom graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School in June, each received a $2,000 scholarship, which could quadruple if they attain a good academic standing at their respective schools. The scholarship can be renewed for up to three years at a post-secondary education or vocational program, said David Pope, president of OPRC. 

Pope said Akins and Turner were each presented with their scholarships Aug. 4 during a small ceremony held outside at OPRF. 

“It was really wonderful to have the opportunity to recognize Josiah and Charmir,” Pope said, adding OPRC Chairman Wayne Pierce and OPRF District 200 Superintendent Greg Johnson were also in attendance. “We were fortunate to celebrate with them under a beautiful, sunny sky in front of the high school.” 

Pope said Akins and Turner were the first winners of the newly created scholarship. The scholarship, which was initiated in partnership with the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, was open to high school seniors who live in an OPRC building. 

Eligible candidates also had to be accepted by an accredited two-year or four-year college in the U.S. or other education programs, including vocational training. Applicants were asked to answer a series of questions, including ones that asked them to share the lessons they learned from a challenging experience and outline future career goals, Pope said. 

“We’re very excited to be able to offer it and to be able to help support the further education of young people in Oak Park and young people who are residents of the OPRC buildings,” he  said. 

Akins plans on attending Triton College in River Grove in the fall where she looks to complete her general education courses and pursue a degree in business or nursing, according to an OPRC press release. Turner will be heading to Ball State University in Indiana and studying architecture. 

For Turner, being named one of OPRC’s first scholarship recipients was “really cool” and “an honor in and of itself.”  

When asked about his dream to become an architect, the 18-year-old Turner looked back on his childhood and all the times where he played with Legos. Those were the moments that inspired him, on top of living in Oak Park, home to many of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s creations.  

“My mom and I would always watch the HGTV network and would see how the different people designed the houses, and I got very, very interested in that,” Turner said, opening up to share the roots of his goals. 

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