Dothan Campus students take honors at Freedom Speaks competition

Zakia Walton and Sara Haywood are student in TROY's Dothan Campus Student Support Services program.

Zakia Walton and Sara Haywood are student in TROY's Dothan Campus Student Support Services program.

A pair of students from Troy University’s Student Support Services at the Dothan Campus recently brought home honors in the very first collegiate Freedom Speaks competition presented by PACE, Inc.

Zakia Walton, a graduate student in Rehabilitation Counseling, placed third and Sara Haywood, a senior majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies, placed fourth.

Standing for Proclaiming America’s Call for Equality, PACE presented the competition to challenge, encourage and motivate students to develop a better understanding of history and its application today while providing an avenue to personally excel in competition. Competitors were challenged to present their personal message to society based on speeches by Abraham Lincoln or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  

Walton, who is originally from Anchorage, Alaska, graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from TROY in May 2021. She is currently finishing up her first year of graduate studies in the counseling program on the Dothan Campus and serves as a McNair Scholars Research Tutor. The name of her speech was “Freedom, For All?”

“As a participant in the PACE scholarship, it was an honor to represent and voice the experiences and concerns of women and People of Color in America today,” Walton said.

Haywood now calls the Wiregrass home having previously lived in Jacksonville, Fla. She and her husband, Willie, have three adult children and five grandchildren. She is the C.E.O. and Founder of Anointed Vessels Ministries, a non-profit outreach ministry and has published two books, “Abundant Living Encouragement for Success” and “Nuggets of Truth for 365 Days.” Her latest work is a children’s book, “Faith Realized, this is God’s Creation,” with a CD sing-along, which will be released this year.

Haywood’s speech was titled “There is a Call to Unity.”

“Participating in PACE Speaks competition was a blessing and a momentous event that I will cherish,” Haywood said. “The competition was a breath of fresh air and gave us another obtainable challenge that was beneficial for our personal growth and the opportunity to represent the college.”

TROY Student Support Services (SSS) is a federally funded initiative established to increase the retention and graduation rates of eligible students. That mission is accomplished through assisting students with attaining their education goals in an institutional climate that is supportive and necessary for academic success. Qualifications for participation in the program include, in part, being classified as a first-generation, low-income or special needs student. Some elements of the program have operated for nearly 30 years at Troy University.