One student's dedication and memory will live on in Walker County through a recently established scholarship. After Walker College Foundation scholar Ethan Bland, 18, of Sipsey died on April 4, …
One student's dedication and memory will live on in Walker County through a recently established scholarship.
After Walker College Foundation scholar Ethan Bland, 18, of Sipsey died on April 4, 2018, his peers with the foundation created a scholarship in his name to help another student achieve their academic dreams.
Bland was set to graduate from Bevill State Community College-Jasper with an associate's degree this fall. He had been earning college credit since the summer before his 10th-grade year of high school, by taking college courses each summer. His senior year of high school, he was dual enrolled at Bevill State.
Bland's aunt, Sharon Key, said her nephew was determined to achieve his goal of becoming a software programmer, and had plans to earn a bachelor's degree at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.
"He was driven. He was a planner. I always referred to him as a layered thinker," Key said. "It's so sad to see all of that work that he did just snuffed out, and he didn't really get to be a kid."
While attending Bevill State under a Walker College Foundation scholarship, he was involved in many activities.
Bland was a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, where he was a 2017-18 chapter officer and participated in many events and fundraisers. He made donations to the Secret Pantry and volunteered in the concession stand for all Bevill State home basketball games.
He was also a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success.
As a Walker College Foundation scholar, Bland participated in community service projects that included being a Salvation Army bell ringer and donating and wrapping toys for Capstone Rural Health Center's toy drive.
Holly Trawick, the executive director of the Walker College Foundation, said she will miss Bland's hard work and tender spirit.
"Ethan was a joy to have in our scholarship program. He made friends easily and was kind and generous to those around him," Trawick said. "Our scholars wanted to honor Ethan’s generous spirit by raising money for a scholarship in his name. I’m very proud of these students. Through this scholarship, they have ensured that Ethan will continue to help other students, and our memories of him will carry forward."
The scholarship in Bland's name for $10,000 was awarded to a Curry High School senior, who will attend Bevill State this fall to pursue an engineering degree.
Money for the scholarship is still being raised, in hopes of providing a two-year education at Bevill. Donations can be made at www.wcfdn.org; or through check to the Walker College Foundation, P.O. Box 2228, Jasper, AL 35502.
A total of $4,400 has been raised so far, which will almost provide a one-year scholarship to Bevill State.
Bland died due to an accidental gunshot wound, and Key said his family hopes to promote gun safety measures in his memory.
He began hunting at the age of 8 with family and friends and continued to hunt on his own at the age of 14. Bland was very familiar with guns, Key said. While examining his 1911 Ruger, Bland was unaware a bullet was still left in the chamber.
In a thank you letter to the Walker College Foundation for a scholarship to Bevill, Bland expressed his gratitude and hopes for the future. Key said his words capture the Ethan whom everyone loved and now deeply miss.
"Your generosity has inspired me to help others and give back to my community," he said. "I hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as you have helped me."
Key said the scholarship in not only honoring Bland's memory, but fulfilling his ultimate wish.
"I would like for people to know that he had an unfailing commitment to do the right thing, and he had the biggest heart, with genuine compassion and empathy," she said.