05/09/2013 04:55 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Get Out and Give

The beauty of public service is that it enables one to change the world through community involvement. The greater essence of civic engagement is that it allows people to begin taking a vested interested in the advancement of their communities. During my teenager years, I discovered my love for giving back to my community. As I entered my high school each day, it was often like entering a battlefield. As products of a crumbling public school system, my peers and I received a less than stellar education coupled with little hope for a positive future.

I became involved in student government and community service initiatives. This triggered my desire to change the system by attending college and studying government and politics. Eventually, I came to the realization that studying the system was not the same as changing it. As a result, I founded the nonprofit Project ASCEND-an organization working to provide opportunities to low-income young students.

I dreamed of providing financial assistance and mentorship to women of color in my neighborhood. In the winter of 2012, I discovered the means to do so through a tiny Facebook advertisement that changed my life forever. As I scrolled through my newsfeed, I noticed a sponsored ad entitled "Get Out & Give." This ZipCar sponsored competition challenged applicants to answer the following question: "What would you do in your community if you were given $5,000 and a ZipCar for a day?" I responded by stating I would award five deserving high school students a $1,000 scholarship. To my great shock and disbelief, my nonprofit received the grant. These scholarships will be awarded to five members of Project ASCEND funded mentoring group, the Lovely Ladies of Laurel Mentoring.

The LLOL Mentoring Program teaches youth that they too can change the world around them through civic service. Angel Tillery, an LLOL mentee and student at Laurel High School attests, "[The LLOL Mentoring Program] means a lot to me because it changed my life. I was headed on the path of destruction just like the other girls in my community. Now, I look at them and say that could have been me. I'm glad I have a mentor to guide me on the correct path and all girls need someone like that."

These scholarships will undoubtedly alter these girls' lives forever by providing them with avenues to attain higher education. You can get out and give today by supporting the young women of Project ASCEND funded programs by visiting here.

Thank you, ZipCar for allowing me to change the world in a small way.

You can learn more about Project ASCEND through our features in Glamour Magazine, Essence Magazine, Huffington Post, and MTV.

Photo Credit: MTVU