LUBBOCK, TX — Kwami Wilborn won the third-ever DawsonStrong Scholarship, which is a skills-based award given to one member of each Wolfforth Fire Academy graduating class. He received the award last Tuesday during his graduation ceremony with the 31st class of the academy.
The scholarship, worth $2,000, came as a total surprise to Wilborn.
“Being called up and receiving the scholarship was very much a blessing,” Wilborn said in a statement to KLBK News. He felt humbled, saying, “all of us worked our tails off everyday and it truly could’ve been anyone.”
“They called my name and I was in awe,” Wilborn said, adding that it was “really cool” for his instructors to notice and think about him.
Matt Dawson, the firefighter paramedic who awarded the scholarship to Wilborn, said Wilborn had an ear-to-ear grin when they called his name. Dawson was seriously injured in the line of duty on January 11, 2020 after he was struck by a car while working a separate crash.
Wilborn shared that he thinks he received the award because he loves the hands-on portion of being a firefighter, calling it “fun and freeing, in a sense.”
Dawson said the instructors chose Wilborn because of his natural abilities and leadership qualities.
One of Wilborn’s instructors, Dustin Brown, said his student stood out from 28 other classmates. As the program director, he talked with 37 instructors to find out who they think deserves the scholarship.
“Kwami” was the obvious choice, according to Brown.
Wilborn had to complete 32 courses and master the skills to graduate with his class.
“Whenever we talk about skills, we talk about practicing a skill until you can’t get it wrong,” Brown said.
Wilborn would often help those struggling without hesitation, instead of “standing back and watching,” Brown told KLBK News.
According to Wolfforth Fire Academy, firefighting takes endurance, skill and passion, all of which Wilborn demonstrated throughout difficult and painful trainings.
“Kwami would do as much as he can, until he physically just couldn’t do it anymore,” Brown said, adding that Wilborn never gave up. “He worked hard for it. He deserved it.”
Wilborn said he owes his thanks to God, the DawsonStrong Foundation and the Dawson family. He also wanted to thank his family, his brothers in the academy and instructors “for sticking with him.”
Wilborn explained that each day he spent at the academy, he felt happier and happier to be on the firefighting career path.