By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This week, the Minnesota Vikings announced several social justice initiatives. And the team revealed they chose Southwest High School graduate Meredith Kol-Balfour as the inaugural George Floyd Memorial Scholarship recipient.

Members of the Vikings family virtually congratulated Meredith Kol-Balfour, calling her a future leader and inspiring.

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The scholarship named in honor of George Floyd will annually benefit an African American graduating senior in Minneapolis, St. Paul furthering their education.

Mimi, as she goes by, submitted an essay about the ways she seeks to positively impact her community and how she’ll continue to fight against injustice.

“My family has been very social justice minded for as long as I can remember,” Kol-Balfour said.

As a high school student, she sought out internships and opportunities to learn about and address marginalized communities and inequities.

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“I spent a lot of May and June at protests,” Kol-Balfour said.

The death of Floyd impacted her, like so many around the country. The teen helped organize a sit-in at the capitol in early June that drew thousands.

She says being recognized in this way by the Vikings reaffirms she’s on the right path.

“Just means a lot because I get to be a role model for people who look like me. And that’s a big deal for me because it’s really important for me to have black women role models, especially in the fields that I want to go into because I want to go into a STEM field. Just thank you to everybody,” Kol-Balfour said.

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The Barnard College freshman said this $5,000 scholarship allows her to start school without taking out a loan to help cover expenses.

Jennifer Mayerle