GAITHERSBURG — At Monday night’s City Council meeting, Mayor Jud Ashman joined members of the Gaithersburg Rotary Club to honor the first recipient of a scholarship named for a city resident and activist. They named Kiana Taylor, a recent graduate of Quince Orchard High School, the winner of the Linda M. Hanson Scholarship.
Hanson, a professional music teacher who passed away in January 2017, was an active member of the Gaithersburg Rotary Club, had served on the Gaithersburg Olde Towne Advisory Subcommittee, and at the time of her death, was executive director of Gaithersburg HELP, a nonprofit organization that provides food, transportation and medical services to underprivileged citizens and families.
“Linda was a wonderful member of our community,” Ashman said. “She brought a lot of joy to a lot of people.”
“Linda Melvin Hanson believed in serving the community,” said Hanson’s widower, John Hanson. He related that his late wife had served as the manager of the Christian Science Reading Room in Olde Towne Gaithersburg, and on the PTA of Thurgood Marshall Elementary and Quince Orchard High Schools in addition to her work with Gaithersburg HELP.
“Linda loved working with the other volunteers as Gaithersburg HELP’s Neighbor Helping Neighbor pantry, [as it] expanded and grew into its new and larger location,” Hanson said. “She also coordinated Gaithersburg HELP’s efforts with other organizations in this part of the county to serve those in need.”
Scott Rebein, president of the Gaithersburg Rotary Club, discussed the process of interviewing candidates for the scholarship established in Hanson’s name. He said that he and other Rotary members on the scholarship panel were impressed by Kiana Taylor’s work in tutoring and mentoring underprivileged students in the area.
“Kiana was the student who came to the top because she really embodied Linda’s spirit of giving to the community,” Rebein said. “She played varsity volleyball and did many other things at school, but still found time through her church to serve not only the 75 hours she needed to graduate, but hundreds of hours working with children who were less advantaged than many of us.”
Taylor will attend Hampton University, a historically African-American college in Virginia, this fall. She received a check for $1,000 at Monday’s meeting and will receive a second check for the same amount upon the successful completion of her college freshman year.
“I did a lot of work with younger students who didn’t have a support system, to help them succeed in school,” Taylor said. “I grew up extremely blessed, with a family that supported me, and I wanted to help those who didn’t.”
Taylor said that she plans to major in communications at Hampton, with a minor in sports management, and she hopes to work as a sports reporter.