Scholarship given in slain teen's memory

Tiphne Hollis shot, killed in March 2010

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Tiphne Hollis

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Next week, a Jacksonville teenager killed in March 2010 would have walked across the stage to receive her diploma.

Police said 16-year-old Tiphne Hollis was killed when a bullet entered the car she, her sister and friends were riding in.

The case is still unsolved, Hollis' family is determined to let her legacy live on.

On Thursday, they awarded a scholarship to one of her classmates in her honor.

For Shanda Whitaker, Hollis' mom, it's been 802 days, 802 sleepless nights and 802 times the sun's come up without the most precious thing in the world to her.

"I just wanted everybody to know this would've been the year Tiphne graduated and went off to college," Whitaker said. "It's a painful situation."

Whitaker is going to make sure her daughter's legacy continues: her passion for fashion, her artistic eye and her yearn to help others.

Whitaker awarded Ed White High School senior La'Kisha Shaw with a $1,000 scholarship. It's one of five she'll receive over the next four years.

"I don't have words to express how I feel. It's crazy," Shaw said.

Shaw won the scholarship by maintaining a 3.0 GPA or higher throughout her high school career and writing a 700-word essay about teen violence.

"The world's getting difficult each day," Shaw said. "We don't want to live in this kind of world."

Shaw plans to use the money toward nursing school.

"I was happy I did the essay. It came from my heart," she said.

Hollis' sister said that on March 20, 2010, they left the mall with some friends and were going to stop by a block party on the Westside. She believes their car was mistaken for someone else's.

They heard gunshots. Hollis' sister said several bullets hit the car, and one went through the back door, killing Hollis.

"To lose your child and to see other children going on with their lives, and the position I'm in as a school bus driver and a day care owner, it just reminds you so much of your child and so many questions," Whitaker said. "Why this had to happen?"

Whitaker hosts fish fries and carnivals to raise money for the scholarships. Her family plans to offer several more in the coming years.

"This is the only way I know how to continue to keep my baby's memory alive, is doing good things, helping people," Whitaker said.

Hollis was supposed to graduate Tuesday. Her parents are walking across the stage in her honor.

If you'd like to donate to her foundation, go to

If you know anything about her killing, call Crime Stoppers at 866-845 TIPS. Hollis' family is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

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