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Student Spotlight: Malea Benjamin, South Hills Apartments, Pell City

December 01, 2020

Malea Benjamin received a 2020 resident scholarship award from the Alabama Affordable Housing Association (AAHA). She went on to later receive a scholarship from the national Council for Affordable and Rural Housing (CARH) organization.


Benjamin is a 2020 graduate of Pell City High School and currently attends the University of Alabama. She is majoring in political science with a minor in communications or criminal justice. Ultimately, she plans to continue on to law school.

Career Goals:

“I have been intrigued by politics since a very young age,” wrote Benjamin in her scholarship application. “I remember going to the polls in 2008 with my grandmother and when she asked me who she should vote for (as if she did not already know), I remember pointing to President Barack Obama. As I grew older, I was fascinated by the whole presidential election process, from the candidates, to the debates, to the general election. Since sixth grade, my career goal was to become a lawyer. It was only natural that I would choose the legal profession as the doorway to becoming a member of Congress. My dream is to become a lawyer and politician because my heart truly lies in public service.”

Impact of Scholarship:

Benjamin said, “There is limited family contribution toward the cost of college. This scholarship will ease the burden of college expenses, which will allow me to focus more on my studies. Being awarded this scholarship will bring me closer to making my dream a reality.”

Living in affordable housing:

“I know from personal experience how affordable housing can play a huge role in the outcome of a student’s education,” said Benjamin. “[In 2018], we were able to move into affordable housing that was less than a one-mile drive from my high school. Finally, I was able to have my own space to decorate as I pleased and a place where I could study without disruptions. The neighborhood was quiet, safe, and, most of all, affordable. A suitable home life is a very important factor in determining a child’s educational success. It is necessary that more affordable housing be made available in communities throughout the country, where children, like myself, can benefit from living in home environments suitable for learning, free from chaos and distractions, and provide stability needed to improve a child’s academic performance.”

In 2000, the Alabama Affordable Housing Association (AAHA) created an education scholarship program for residents of member-owned apartment properties in Alabama. The scholarship funds are donated by the owners, contractors, architects, accountants, property management companies, investors, lenders, developers, and various vendors that make up AAHA’s membership as well as other non-member individuals. Since its inception, the AAHA resident scholarship fund has awarded more than $750,000 in college and vocational scholarships. For more information about the resident scholarship program, please contact Arrice Faught, AAHA’s executive director, at [email protected] or 205.758.1158.