Family of slain nursing student awards scholarship in honor of graduation she didn’t live to see

The family of a young woman killed in Birmingham marked what would have been her nursing school Graduation Day by honoring another student.

Destiny Washington, 20, was shot to death Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020 in the parking lot of the student center at University Boulevard and 14th Street South.

Her parents, Randy and Tora Washington, on Friday presented a $500 scholarship to a Tarrant High School student who also plans to study nursing at Lawson State. The award was given to Madison Rodgers at the school’s Awards Day ceremony held Friday evening.

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“I just feel like that’s something Destiny would want us to do,’’ said her mother, Tora Washington, a teacher at Tarrant High. “It makes us feel like we’re giving back to someone who demonstrates the same character as Destiny.”

Destiny was also remembered Friday at Lawson State’s graduation ceremony, which was held virtually. She would have graduated as a registered nurse.

On the night she was killed, Destiny was with her boyfriend to sell someone a pair of AirPods. Family said the boyfriend realized the money was fake, retrieved the AirPods and began to leave. That’s when the suspect fired a shot into the vehicle, striking Washington.

The boyfriend drove her to Children’s of Alabama – the closest hospital – where she was pronounced dead. Days later, Birmingham police announced the arrest of ex-UAB football player and UAB student Carlos Stephens on a capital murder charge. Stephens has remained held without bond in the Jefferson County Jail since his Dec. 21 arrest. He is claiming self-defense.

Destiny Washington Memorial Nursing Scholarship
Randy and Tora Washington, the parents of slain nursing student Destiny Washington, awarded the first Destiny Washington Memorial Nursing Scholarship to graduating Tarrant High School senior Madison Rogers. Destiny was also remembered Friday at Lawson State’s virtual graduation. (Special to AL.com)

Destiny was completing classes at Lawson State through UAB’s Joint Admission program. Though initially she wanted to work in neonatal care, she had changed her mind and planned on becoming a traveling nurse.

“Before she became a student in nursing, she was recognized as one of Lawson’s Phi Theta Kappa scholars,’’ Darren Allen, Dean of Students at Lawson State, said at a December vigil on UAB’s campus held in Washington’s honor. The honor society is made up of the top students enrolled in two-year colleges around the U.S.

Destiny graduated from Clay-Chalkville High School in 2018. She was an AP student with a high GPA who took part in the school’s Health Sciences program. She also played volleyball and basketball.

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Her mother said the family decided to set up the memorial scholarship, which they are paying for themselves. The recipient, Washington said, is so deserving. “She is a hard worker, and she goes above and beyond to help others,’’ she said. “She always has shown respect and she’s so responsible.”

“Her dad is really struggling because that was his baby girl,’’ she said. “They were so much alike. Our family as a whole has been really struggling. Carlos took something from us that we can never get back. It’s like a nightmare.”

The scholarship is a way to keep her memory alive. “I want her to be remembered,’’ she said. “I want her to live on.”

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