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Urban Scholars program opens doors

Oct. 24, 2007
By Mary Reed and Katie Taybus | Photos by Rick Fatica

For a smart, hardworking student without the means to pursue a college degree, a scholarship to fill the financial gap can be a dream come true. Thanks to the private donors who have made the Urban Scholars Program possible, this dream is a reality for 10 freshmen at Ohio University.

"Funding scholarships that provide all manner of students with the opportunity to attend Ohio University are a priority for the institution," says Vice President for University Advancement Howard Lipman. "It is our goal -- as well as that of our many donors -- to safeguard the hopes and dreams of the young people in our state and in our region by making a college education a reality."

This marks the third year of the Urban Scholars Program, an initiative of President Roderick J. McDavis. The program is designed to increase campus diversity and enhance opportunities for high school students in Ohio's urban centers to enroll and succeed in college. To qualify, students must demonstrate both financial need and academic merit.

"They're really hardworking students who just basically deserved a chance, and the scholarship is their chance," says Greta Oliver, assistant director of academic support and outreach for the Office for Diversity.

An Urban Scholarship is valued at $14,000 a year, but funding is not the only thing the Urban Scholars Program offers. Students also have the opportunity to take advantage of academic support seminars, mentoring experiences, leadership seminars, residential learning communities, faculty-guided research experiences and internships.

Last year's scholars met with Gov. Ted Strickland as well as "The Three Doctors," a trio of African-American men who, as teenagers, made a pact to support each other as they went to college and became doctors. They also were guests of honor at the Black Alumni Reunion gala, where they met many of the donors who have contributed to the scholarship program.

One of these donors is Patricia Ackerman, former chair of the Ohio University Board of Trustees.

"What (the Urban Scholars Program) does, to my way of looking at it, is to speak to the diversity of the student population, not just in terms of color but in terms of a different set of experiences," Ackerman says. "For students who have had a monolithic experience, it will support their understanding of people very different from themselves."

In their own words:

My name: Samantha Scott
Favorite teacher qualities: Kind and understanding yet strict
Best advice:  Doing what is right is not always popular and doing what is popular is not always right.
Important issue: The war on drugs
Class I'm looking forward to: Math
Favorite book: "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" by Dr. Seuss
 Photo by Rick Fatica
My name: Basia Howard
Would like to research: HIV/AIDS. It's the No. 1 killer of African-American women in the United States.
Favorite movie: "Crash"
Class I'm looking forward to: Chemistry and working on grant research projects
Superpower I wish I had: Regeneration, like Wolverine from "X-Men"
I chose Ohio University because: It offers interesting courses and has aesthetic beauty
 Photo by Rick Fatica
My name: Shannon Kee
Accomplishment: Being the only male to graduate in the top 10 of my class
Most excited about: Making lifelong friends
I miss: My little brother
Important issue: Showing that our generation is competent
Unknown talent: Singing
Shannon Kee 
My name: Harvey J. Smith Jr.
I admire: My parents and my family. They have always been there to support me in everything I do and always strive for me to do my best.
Best advice: The battle goes to neither the swift nor the strong, but those who endure.
Nervous about: Getting to roundtables on time!
Favorite book: "Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe
Dream job: Photographer at GQ
Harvey Smith 
My name: Samuel Ricks
Favorite movie: "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"
Favorite teacher quality: Someone with passion
Best advice: Don't ever be afraid to stand up for something you believe in.
Accomplishment: Going to college
Would like to research: The environment in the ghettoes of this nation
Samuel Ricks 
My name: Andres Ruiz
I chose Ohio University because: It's a beautiful campus with cliffs and hills, which instantly reminded me of my home in Puerto Rico.
Most excited about: Getting involved and making a difference
Recommended books: The Bible, "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis and "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins
Important issue: Women being degraded by the media
Dream job: Secret agent
Andres Ruiz 
My name: Cierra Waller
Favorite teacher qualities: Optimistic, helpful, nurturing and considerate
Hope to achieve: A high GPA, a stable social life and having fun
Favorite book: "The Coldest Winter Ever" by Sister Souljah
Unknown talent: I'm a good writer
Best advice: Handle your business first, and everything else will fall into place.
Cierra Waller 
My name: Tierra S. Walker
I admire: My grandmother. She is my greatest cheerleader and continues to encourage me.
Hope to achieve: Strong connections with my professors
Will miss: My mom's cooking and my own shower
Dream job: Working in the fashion industry
Superpower I wish I had: Instant healing
Tierra Walker 


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Published: Jul 20, 2006 3:50:00 PM
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