NATCHITOCHES – A Shreveport minister established a scholarship to help students whose parents have been incarcerated attend Northwestern State University. The Big Al’s Rock It Scholarship will be awarded in the fall and spring semesters. Students must maintain a 2.5 or better grade point average. Preference will be given to a student from the Shreveport Bossier area. Applicants must provide proof that their parent or guardian has a history of incarceration and write an 800-word essay on “How incarceration impacted their life and how they will change their community.”
“The mission of the Big Al Fund is to provide students with the opportunity to advance even though their parents may have experienced setbacks due to incarceration,” explained Pastor Eric Williams, pastor of The Rock Church in Shreveport. “Big Al experienced a life of incarceration in Louisiana’s most notorious prison but was released and started a new life of transformation. Throughout his life, he mentored and trained young people to excel in life. In 2004, he passed after a battle with diabetes. The Big Al Fund was established in 2017 to continue his legacy of change and mentorship.”
Scholarship recipients will be required to read their final essay at The Rock Church.
“We want each applicant to discuss how incarceration impacted his or her life. They should also convey how their degree will impact their community and mentor future students,” he said.
Louisiana has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the United States, nearly double the national average.
“Since many students feel disenfranchised or isolated due to their parent being imprisoned, they need an opportunity to soar via education,” said Williams, who described his ministry as committed to changing lives spiritually, physically, emotionally, financially and intellectually in order to them succeed.
“Big Al” Williams grew up in south Louisiana. Bad decisions led to his incarceration as a young man, but he experienced a transformation that he attributed to God. When his sentence was reduced and he was released, he devoted his life to helping young men and women change their lives from inactivity to productivity within the community. And he reared two sons with his wife in North Louisiana. The oldest is Pastor Williams, who “strives to continue his father’s legacy of being an agent of change for the next generation by offering The Big Al Scholarship Fund.”
“The scholarship is a vehicle for making our community stronger through education,” Williams said.
For information on contributing scholarship, visit northwesternalumni.com or www.therocklife.org.