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August 27, 2013

2013 Arland D. Williams, Jr. Scholarship Recipient Announced

(L-R) Tim Bover, Phyllis Roytek, Gayla McDaniel, Shawna Davis, Peggy Fuesting

Shawna Davis knows the importance of being involved in her community and when she hears the name, Arland D. Williams, she feels a strong sense of pride for her community and the people in it. It is fitting that she aspires to have future generations remember her own contributions as they do those of the scholarship’s namesake.

As the 2013 recipient of the Arland D. Williams, Jr. Scholarship, named after the Mattoon hero who died in a plan crash saving the lives of other in January 1982, Davis is in her second year of college at Illinois State University. Shawna will be graduating with a double major in Political Science and in Economics. She is very adamant that her career intentions are to use her education to help build a stronger community as a professional in her hometown of Mattoon.

Davis is the daughter of Brian and Katie Davis and is a 2011 graduate of Mattoon High School.

During high school Davis was involved in numerous sports, Key Club, National Honor Society, Teen Court, Student Council and was crowned Begalfest Queen in 2010. She completed 16 college credits during high school, which placed her a semester ahead of schedule her freshman year.

Since attending Illinois State University, Shawna has joined two organizations, Alpha Delta Pi (a social sorority) and Alpha Phi Omega (a co-ed service fraternity), participating in local food drives, and volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and Ronald McDonald House.

Nominees for the scholarship are asked to write an essay about Williams and why he is considered a hero. Davis wrote in her winning essay, “Williams is not just a legendary figure for the town of Mattoon, but he is a heroic symbol for our country as well.” It is known that Williams had a fear of water but did eventually learn to swim while attending The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina. During that fateful day, in the freezing water of the Potomac River in Washington, DC, Williams passed the lifeline from a rescue helicopter to help other passenger’s when their airline crashed after takeoff. When the helicopter returned for Williams after rescuing the others, he had gone under the water and died.

Davis is the 29th recipient of the scholarship, began by Williams’ classmates and family members to help MHS graduates with an interest in financial careers. Williams is the namesake of Williams Elementary School and the retelling of his story through the years has brought national attention to Mattoon and offered a role model for area school children like Davis once was.

For more information about the Arland D. Williams, Jr Scholarship Fund or the Mattoon Area Community Foundation, visit or contact Joedy Hightower at 217-235-2500.

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