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University of Louisville student, Lakeisha Gardner, has been chosen as the recipient of this year’s No Need to Pay Scholarship

University of Louisville student, Lakeisha Gardner, has been chosen as the recipient of this year's No Need to Pay Scholarship, valued at $2,500, for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year. Gardner is a Psychology Major and is minoring in Pan-African Studies.

"I was extremely happy to learn that I was chosen to receive the No Need To Pay Scholarship, " Gardner said. "It will certainly help with tuition and other school expenses. And I'm really happy to know that TJ Smith offered this scholarship. It feels good knowing that he wants to help the Louisville community by offering scholarships."

Created by attorney TJ Smith, the No Need to Pay Scholarship is aimed at helping Louisville undergraduate students finance their education.

"I created this scholarship because I want to help make a difference in my community," said Smith. "Lakeisha had a great application. We wish her much success in pursuing her education at the University of Louisville and hope our scholarships helps ease some of the financial burden."

Gardner's winning essay is below:

I see a lot. I watch people. I observe their habits, tendencies, and take note of patterns across populations of people. In particular, I take note of those driving on the road.

I am not a driver for various reasons, but particularly because of these aforementioned patterns. The gut-wrenching fear of being struck and catapulted from a vehicle holds me hostage and has done so for several years now. The intensity of this fear has increased in recent years because I am more attuned to the driving habits of Louisvilllians.

They are a peculiar group.

Thirty seconds. Ten seconds. Two minutes.

The minute amount of time taken for granted when a driver draws to a halt at a red light. I see them reach for their phones with no hesitation. Some already cradle the device in their palm before they come into view. I stare from the safety of the sidewalk, internally fuming and fighting the urge to hail them down for a polite condemnation.

Although I have never experienced an accident as a result of distracted driving, I confront that fear each and every day. I vicariously experience the anticipated panic each time I notice a Louisville driver neglect their own safety for the sake of a text message, tweet, or inessential selfie. A stranger indeed, but I fear for them what they fail to acknowledge.

Collectively as a society, we know and understand the risks. We have seen the statistics. We have known victims. The numbers of gruesome photos detailing grisly transformations of vehicles after an accident are astounding. Yet, the tendency to neglect one's own safety and the wellbeing of vehicle passengers lives on. Perhaps we have become emotionally numb and distanced ourselves from the reality of the risks at hand. We think to ourselves, "That could never happen to me." Perhaps we don't have these thoughts consciously but they lurk in our subconscious until a drastic event occurs to bring them to the surface of our awareness.

These are simply speculations of a bystander. I have no empirical evidence to support my beliefs. The only concrete support I can provide are my observations and fears. I have witnessed a number of drivers relax far too much at the wheel and cause simple traffic hurdles that could very easily result in accidents. They take for granted those few seconds between the flash of a red and green light. Although they may escape the potential casualty once or twice, they are often too confident with their third attempts.

Congratulations to Lakeisha on her outstanding achievement!