JFK grad, a volunteer and artist, wins scholarship


The family of the late Philip Williams, a former commander of Merrick’s American Legion Post No. 1282, this year awarded the $1,000 Philip L. Williams Memorial Scholarship to Nikki Reyes, a recent Kennedy High School graduate who will continue her studies in the fall at Boston University. 

Reyes devotes much of her time to helping others. After school, she is often engaged in community-service-related activities with Kennedy’s Key Club and One World Club. She and One World Club participants have socialized with senior citizens at various area functions. In her free periods, Reyes has worked with special needs students. During the holidays, she spends time with sick children at local hospitals. Each month, she volunteers at a dance that Nassau BOCES holds for special-needs students. She has also been involved with Merrick’s American Legion Auxiliary Unit 1282, assisting at the organization’s annual Halloween parties for Girl Scouts as well as other events. Reyes additionally tutors other students and has worked at neighborhood bakeries.

A well-rounded individual, Reyes can read, write and speak Mandarin, has a black belt in taekwondo and is a member of the Kennedy art club. She has taken summer courses at Hofstra University and the Fashion Institute of Technology, learning to design, sketch and sew patterns. A poppy centerpiece she created took first prize in a statewide American Legion Auxiliary contest.

Reyes found out she had won the scholarship at Kennedy’s senior awards night on May 28. She subsequently participated in an award ceremony in her honor at the American Legion Post, at 160 Merrick Road.

“One of Phil’s goals as commander was to form an auxiliary at our post,” said Sharon Williams, widow of Philip Williams. “I know he would be very proud to know one of our members has earned this award in his memory. Phil believed that investment in our young adults was essential so they can develop into tomorrow’s leaders, build prosperous futures and make valuable contributions to our society.”