Alumna Jada J. Smith ‘17 is a hard-working young woman who has long felt called to acknowledge other hard-working young women, particularly female athletes and African American youth. In 2019, she established her nonprofit S.W.A.G.—Scholars with Athletic/Academic/Artistic Goals, and in 2023, she launched a scholarship program in her name at Merion Mercy Academy. The $500 scholarship is awarded to an African American Merion Mercy senior who is “excelling in academics, an active member of the community, and living out the mantra ‘Live Mercy. Seek Justice,’ as well as committing to the ideals of the MMA sisterhood.” The scholarship’s first recipient is Autumn Drake ’23.
Nominated and affirmed by several faculty and staff members, Autumn has distinguished herself at Merion Mercy. In honoring her with MMA’s first S.W.A.G. scholarship, Jada said, “You are truly a focused, extraordinary young lady who stands out in such a positive way.” She encouraged Autumn to “Strive to be a better version of yourself every day!”
Like Jada, who recently earned her master’s in clinical mental health counseling, Autumn intends to major in psychology with an eye toward a career as a child development psychologist. She will attend the University of Michigan and says, “Merion influenced my decision because I wanted a school that could challenge me academically like MMA does and also wanted to go to a college with a tight-knit community that will continue to support me in my future endeavors.”
In reflecting on her years at Merion, Jada said, “The compassionate sisterhood embraced me and pushed me to grow beyond what I thought was possible.” She added, “You can support a sister and bring her up while you are growing yourself.”
- Merion Mercy Academy