The Willie B. Richardson Scholarship announces its first recipient!

Congratulations to Mikaiah Hill, the first ever recipient of the Willie B. Richardson Scholarship!

Mikaiah was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. She recently graduated from David Douglas High School, where she was the National Honor Society president, an elected Associated Student Body officer, a varsity cheerleader, and a three year member of the Black Student Union.

This fall Mikaiah will be entering Oregon State University, where she plans to major in English Education. In her application, Mikaiah wrote, “After high school, I plan to pursue higher education to become a secondary education teacher. My dream is to return and teach at a high school in the local community I grew up in.” Mikaiah described how impactful it is for Black students to have Black teachers to support them:

“The student population is getting more diverse, so it is equally important to diversify the teaching staff. … Having a teacher who looks like you and grew up in the same area is so essential to aid in the learning of Portland youth. Black students were made to thrive in schools, not just survive. I dream of being a teacher who believes in all of my students, and if they have one teacher they feel supported by, that teacher will be me.

The Willie B. Richardson Scholarship was established in 2023 in honor of Willie Richardson, who co-chaired Oregon Black Pioneers’ founding Board of Directors in the mid-1990s and served as OBP’s President from 2004 through 2021. Willie Richardson was particularly committed to education. She served on the Salem-Keizer School Board from 1987 to 1991, the first Black person elected to that board.

The scholarship offers one $1000 award annually to a college-bound Black high school senior residing in Oregon who has demonstrated an interest in Oregon’s Black history. If you would like more information about the Willie B. Richardson Scholarship, please see the Salem Foundation page here. If you would like to donate to the scholarship fund, please visit this page.

Please join us in congratulating Mikaiah Hill and wishing her the best in her future studies!