A Hempstead High School senior who plans to study nursing was awarded the inaugural Barbara V. Powell Sr. Leadership Award from the Hempstead NAACP Saturday.

Kailah Williams, 17, of Roosevelt, was presented with the award as well as $2,000 to put toward the costs of her first year at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, at the organization’s 35th annual Freedom Fund luncheon, according to Hempstead NAACP vice president Barbara Powell.

Powell helped create the award in memory of her mother, Barbara V. Powell Sr., who served as the chapter’s president for more than 25 years and died in December 2014.

“She was a pillar of the community,” Powell said of her mother. “She led literacy campaigns and voter registration drives, and was an advocate for the voiceless.”

Only students from Hempstead High School who planned to attend a historically black college after graduation were considered for the award. Four students applied, Powell said. They had to write an essay about their career goals, academic accomplishments and community service experience.

Williams was chosen for her commitment to furthering her education and her involvement in her community, Powell said. She regularly tutors elementary school students, is part of her school’s student government and recently won an essay contest sponsored by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration Committee of Nassau County for her piece on King’s impact on her life.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

“Kailah is a very smart young lady. She’s going places in life,” Powell said. “I think my mother would be proud and I know she’s smiling down on us.”

Williams said she plans to study nursing and that she’s grateful to receive an award named for a woman well known and admired in her community.

“It was emotional for me being the recipient of this award as I have strived to emulate Ms. Powell’s leadership,” Williams said.