Youth Commission graduate with passion for making an impact receives scholarship

by Holly Hollman
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Samantha Norton receives the scholarship award from Mayor Ronnie Marks

ATHENS-Samantha Norton is passionate about making an impact from sharing a kind word to volunteering in her community.


The Lindsay Lane Christian Academy graduate is this year’s recipient of the Athens Mayor’s Youth Commission Scholarship. Norton can utilize the $500 toward tuition or college related expenses at the University of North Alabama. She plans to pursue a career in nursing.


Norton said her “greatest passion in life” is helping others. During her three-year tenure in Youth Commission, she volunteered with various community outreach programs, including a cemetery cleanup project, household hazardous waste event, Christmas Open House and Relay for Life.


Norton said the Christmas Open House community service project stands out above the rest. She worked in the refreshment trailer for City of Athens Relay for Life Team with cancer survivor Kathy Cothren. Norton said Cothren was “one of the kindest women I will ever meet.”


“While she is no longer with us because of a battle with cancer, she showed me that it is always worth it to be kind to people,” Norton said. “As good human beings, we should show compassion because everyone is going through something and needs love in some way, whether that is a kind word or gesture.”


Norton said she also enjoyed the Senior Buddies program Youth Commission started in 2022 to pair students with senior citizens at the Athens Activity Center.


“I saw the community through the eyes of someone who has lived here and experienced so much more than I have,” she said.


Norton plans to join a sorority at UNA in order to continue community outreach through sorority service projects. She said Youth Commission taught her the importance of defending the Constitution, upholding laws, voting, serving our country, and working with diverse people to make improvements in our city and country.


In a letter of recommendation for Norton, Chris Pirtle wrote that Norton has a “compassionate heart that leads to her desire to meet needs of people when at all possible.”


Mayor Ronnie Marks, who presented Norton with her scholarship award, said he expects her to represent Athens well in college and through her nursing career.


“It is inspiring to see students like Samantha have a heart for giving back,” Marks said. “The Youth Commission program gives us the opportunity to nurture that passion, and we love to see students like Samantha exceed our expectations.”


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