Winner for 1st Annual S.M.A.R.T. Moms Award announced

In recognition of National Women’s Health Week, iDREAM for Racial Health Equity, a project of Community Partners, announced the winner for its First Annual S.M.A.R.T. Moms Award (Student Mothers Achieving Rightful Tribute) – Valerie Brookins.

First Annual S.M.A.R.T. Moms Award winner Valerie Brookins.

First Annual S.M.A.R.T. Moms Award winner Valerie Brookins.

“I cried when I found out,” said Brookins, a master’s candidate at the University of Southern California. “I was overwhelmed to be recognized in such a manner because I’m just going to school. It made me reflect on what my mother always said. Someone is always watching you. For someone to watch me as I pressed forward to be an example for my children is very humbling.”

The award honors student mothers who embody strength and courage by balancing self-care, work and family life while pursuing higher education. The award also recognizes the sacrifices these women make for children in an effort to secure a better life.

Community members began submitting nominations in late April for any mother they thought had a clear vision for her future and served as a role model for her children. Judges identified 11 finalists who scored above 100 points. You can read their nominations online at

The winner and top finalists for the iDream S.M.A.R.T. Mom Award are:

1st Place: Valerie Brookins, University of Southern California

2nd Place: Sequoia Phillips, Compton Community College

3rd Place: (Tie): Kubie Edelen, CSU San Bernardino

3rd Place: (Tie): Kenia N. Alcaraz, CSU Northridge

Later this month, the winner and finalists will participate in a public celebration that will recognize their achievements.

“It’s a balancing act. I take time out for myself so I can have clarity with how I’m going to move through this educational journey,” said Brookins. “It’s challenging to keep it all together. I get up around 5am to meditate because having four kids is a lot of work. After that, I go run at the local junior college in order to come back and have my mind focused so I can be present for my children.”

Brookins obtained a bachelor’s degree in Human Development from Azusa Pacific University. She cares for four young children (Faith, 8; Hope, 7; Charity, 2; Zaire, 2,) while completing her master’s degree in Teaching at USC. Brookins plans to open her own school in the future.

“It’s not easy, but it’s a gift to be in the position we are as mothers,” said Brookins. “Our kids are influenced by our behavior. Whether we are eating healthy or leading a productive life in the community. It’s a mom’s legacy to give our children something tangible that will last a lifetime.”


  1. Viola Newton Dodson says:

    As an older mother with all grown children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren I have always admired Valarie. I have watched her through the years with her family. Just like her mother Evelyn Scarvers told her. People are watching you hoe you carry yourself, how you are with your family. Val never knew I was watching her until now. Valarie I am so proud of you. God have something for you to do for him. Keep pushing forward. Love you.
    Mrs. Viola Dodson

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