Introducing the Knoke Family Scholarship Winners
The Knoke Family Scholarship was established in 2022 by UMN Sociology Professor David Knoke and Joann Knoke. This new scholarship fund for Sociology majors will award two, $5,000 awards annually, with preference given to first-generation students to help them navigate the higher education landscape.
First-generation students often serve as role models within their family, and carry the dreams of their parents and grandparents on their shoulders. Joann and David Knoke recognize how critical additional funding is for students who are the first in their families to attend college.
The first person in her family to go to college, Joann graduated from the University of Toledo with a degree in education and taught elementary school for many years. David was the first man in his family to graduate from college and David’s mother was also the first in her family to acquire a college degree, going on to teach home economics. Paying it forward as a “thank you” to the parents, teachers, friends, and organizations who helped Joann and David with their education, the Knoke Family Scholarship aims to empower students with the support they need to thrive, especially for those first-generation students whose transition to college can be challenging.
As is the case with many first-gen students, the Knoke Family Scholarship’s first recipients - Melissa Llamas-Moreno and Kong Xiong - prove their exceptionalism is their strength.
Melissa is a Sociology BS student and member of the University Honors Program (UHP). A volunteer at Sojourner Place, a shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children, Melissa has helped take care of children while their mothers attend a life skills group. Melissa was also a member of the First-Generation Honors Program Dialogue Circle, an inaugural group that met bi-weekly and shared important conversations with fellow first-generation students providing support and fellowship.
Kong is a Law, Criminology, and Justice BA student and a member of the Hmong Student Association (HMSA), advocating for other Hmong students on campus. Kong has also volunteered for the Saint Paul Recreation Centers, assisting with their after-school programming efforts, helping students with their homework and sharing his experiences as a first-generation student. Kong currently assists the Saint Paul Police Department with their public event programming as a community engagement cadet.
To learn more about the Knoke Family Scholarship and its eligibility criteria, please visit Sociology’s Scholarships & Awards page.