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14th Annual Student Awards Ceremony

2020 Student Loan Debt Paydown recipient Blair Smith accepting award from Central Scholarship President Tierra Dorsey

14th Annual Student Awards Ceremony

Posted: 08.16.21

Thank you to all the Donors, Students, Partners, and Volunteers who attended our 14th Annual Student Awards Ceremony both in-person and virtually! Resilience describes more than just our home state, Central Scholarship students embody that notion and support the mission to make education affordable for all Maryland students.

If you missed the event the first time around, not to worry, below is a recording so you can catch up on the fun anytime!

Keynote speaker Wanda Q. Draper

Central Scholarship is pleased to announce Wanda Q. Draper as this year’s SAC keynote speaker

Posted: 07.26.21

A native of Baltimore, Wanda Queen Draper graduated from the University of Maryland School of Journalism. She also attended Johns Hopkins University Graduate School of Contemporary Studies and the University of Maryland School of Law.

She started her career in Journalism as a student reporter with local television, radio stations and daily newspapers while still in high school. Thus began a 43-year career as a reporter and talk show host that culminated with a 25-year broadcast management career at WBAL-TV 11, where she retired as Director of Programming and Public Affairs.

She annually provided media sponsorship to more than 30 non-profits contributing more than $4 million to support cultural arts, education, and human services for Marylanders. The highlight of her community service was serving on the founding board of the Reginald Lewis Museum from 1999 to 2008. During that time $38 million was raised to build the Museum and $2 million to install the permanent collection. She was honored to be appointed Executive Director in 2016 and delayed her retirement.

During her tenure, she assembled a management team and created a culture of excellence and transformed the museum into a must-see attraction for locals and visitors. In two years, she bought renewed vim and vigor to the once ailing museum and put it on a trajectory for success. By the numbers, she increased revenue 340 percent, attendance by seven percent and student visits by 40 percent.

Wanda currently serves on the board of Visit Baltimore, the University of Maryland Medical System, the School of Global Journalism and Communication at Morgan State University and the WBAL Kids Campaign. She has won numerous local and national awards for broadcasting and community service. She has also been awarded two honorary doctorate degrees.

Wanda is married to Dr. Robert Draper. They have two children and three grandchildren and one more on the way.

About the 14th Annual Student Awards Ceremony

The 2021 Student Awards Ceremony, Coming Back to Baltimore: A Celebration of the Resiliency of Central Scholarship Recipients, will be held on August 10, 2021. In-person attendance will be limited due to COVID-19 protocols, but the event will be live-streamed on the night so that all may celebrate the resiliency of our award recipients! All in-person attendees MUST be vaccinated against COVID-19 and able to provide proof – NO EXCEPTIONS.

Photo of the Programs Summer Intern, Emily Zhu

Central Scholarship Welcomes Newest Summer Intern

Posted: 06.28.21

Central Scholarship is proud to welcome 2020 Straus Scholar Emily Zhu to our team as the Program Associate Intern for the summer of 2021. Emily is a graduate of Dulaney High School and will be a sophomore at the University of Virginia when she returns to campus in the fall. Her academic interests are broad, ranging from biomedicine to mathematics to education, and she has worked or volunteered as a newspaper editor, computational memory researcher, and medical assistant. Last year she spent a semester teaching Mandarin Chinese to kids ranging in age from 3 to 14, creating her own curriculum for delivery over Zoom. We are excited to have Emily and her many talents with us in the office as we work to select our 2021-2022 scholarship recipients.

Learn more about Central Scholarship’s team or ways you can volunteer!

Tips On Your Scholarship Application

Posted: 03.24.21

It’s that time of the year again and excited current and future college students are applying for scholarships. Here at Central Scholarship we know the process might seem intimidating at times, but we are here to help. Below are some tips on preparing a great application and we hope to be reading yours soon!

Don’t hold back!

Tell us why you deserve a Central Scholarship award! The members of our selection committee want to know all about what makes you unique, what you have to offer, and how your ambitions will be enhanced by education.

Your essay speaks volumes.

We know not all students are writers, so we’re not expecting a professional dissertation, but if you take the time to write a thoughtful, cohesive essay, it can certainly boost your scholarship chances. Use this opportunity to talk about events and experiences that aren’t mentioned in the regular application. Tell us WHY you’ve done the things you’ve done. We love specific examples. Don’t forget to showcase your motivations and goals!

Tips for the reapplicant.

We want recipients to be participants, not observers. Students who are responsive, who answer emails and phone calls, and come to Central Scholarship events, always stand out. We also look for students to demonstrate growth, whether by success in their academic work or by giving back to individuals or the larger community.

Avoid common mistakes.

It sounds so simple, but the biggest mistake applicants make is not completing the application! Every year we get partial applications from students who would be excellent candidates, but since the application isn’t complete, we can’t consider them. Once the application is complete, check that it is accurate before you submit it. Read the questions and instructions carefully. Our awards are based on the program you will be enrolled in for the current academic year, but every year we have undergraduate freshmen tell us they’re pursuing a master’s degree because they hope to attend graduate school in four years—and they can end up missing out on opportunities because of it.

We’ll let you know when we’ve received everything.

We will send you an email confirming that your application has been received. If you do not receive this email, the application was probably not submitted correctly. We prefer that supporting materials be submitted electronically. Directions are included in the application. Unless specifically directed to do so, please do not mail materials to Central Scholarship. These materials will not be processed, and your application will be incomplete.

Notifications and Follow-up

If you’re selected as a semi-finalist, we’ll contact you by email and ask you to submit a few additional documents, such as transcripts, family tax returns, and the cost of attendance and financial aid information of your school. Then, if you’re selected as a finalist, we may ask you to come to our offices for an interview. Final awards are also announced by email.

If you have any additional questions or need any more information feel free to check out our eligibility page. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

Blazing a New Path

Posted: 03.11.21

Aaron is originally from Prince George’s County Maryland and a Bishop McNamara High School graduate who had his sights set on a career in medicine. This past year he became a Central Scholarship recipient when he received the Isaac and Catherine Hecht Scholarship fund award to support his doctorate studies in Nurse Anesthesiology at Johns Hopkins University. He told us, “The generous contribution from Central Scholarship helped me pursue my dreams of being an anesthesia provider by alleviating some of my financial burdens and allowing me more time to focus on studying.”

We recently caught up with Aaron to see how his year was going.

What is your favorite part about being in school?

One of my favorite parts of school is the camaraderie between the classmates who share the same academic journey.  My program is three years long. Simply put, it is a marathon, not a sprint. During school, you meet new people from various backgrounds who happen to share the same career path. There is a sense of solidarity when 20 students partake in the same rigorous educational quest.  We support each other through the challenge and, in many cases, form long term friendships. Despite continuous reading, all-night study sessions, and sleep deprivation that can accompany anesthesia programs, I find it essential to cherish the journey because it is an opportunity many do not have.

What is the biggest challenge you have experienced at school, and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge as a student throughout the years has been organization and planning.  During my undergraduate studies, I noticed this was an area I could improve.  Before starting graduate school, I made this a top priority.  I was able to overcome this with the aid of technology advancement and application development over the years. Today, applications allow me to create a schedule, set alerts, and prioritize using my phone, tablet, or laptop. It also makes for a paperless school experience, which fits my learning preference. I was never a fan of printing lectures and carrying binders. I was surprised but pleased to see how much the student experience had changed since I graduated from nursing school seven years ago.

How has life changed for you during the COVID-19 outbreak personally and academically?

Personally, COVID-19 has hindered me from attending events and socializing outside the home but has led to spending more time with close family members, which I have enjoyed.

Academically, the anesthesia program’s first year is designed to be 95% online, with 5% on-campus immersions for one of our courses. This immersion was changed to online due to the pandemic, which had its advantages and disadvantages. Being able to attend class in your own home is convenient, but virtual simulations have their limitations. Fortunately, this course was not an anesthesia course. In May 2021, we are expected to be on campus for course work and clinical residency until completing the program in 2023.

Do you have any advice for students who are about to start their higher education career?

Financially, I would advise students to search diligently for scholarship and grant opportunities. There are many organizations such as central scholarship and others committed to helping students achieve fulfilling careers by providing support.

Academically, I would certainly recommend investing in a tablet to go paperless. The convenience of having all your course-related content, lectures, planner, schedule in one place is a huge benefit.

Mentally, I would advise students to take personal days to avoid burn out. Personally, after every exam, I take the day off to recharge, which gives my mind a break. As I said, school is a marathon, not a sprint and mental well-being gets you to the finish line.

 What do you have planned for the future?

After graduation, I look forward to positively impacting others’ lives by practicing in a hospital system that sees a diverse surgical population. I also intend to engage in research to improve health-related outcomes and advocate for the profession to increase access to high-quality and cost-efficient anesthesia providers.

Given the overwhelming underrepresentation of minorities in nurse anesthesia, I am compelled to contribute to the profession’s further diversification. Although awareness has improved over the years, there are still obscurities amongst non-healthcare professionals. Personally, the majority of people in the community I am from are unfamiliar with nurse anesthesia.  In fact, in the community where I am from, there is an obsolete outlook that nursing is feminine and inferior to medicine. I was often looked down upon for entering what my peers deemed an “unworthy profession” for men. I believe such misconceptions are the reasons why black males make up such a small percentage of the nursing demographic. However, I have never been one to follow the crowd but to lead it. Members of my community are missing opportunities due to this parochial view, and I intend to rectify this to improve diversity in the nursing profession.

We’re thankful to have the opportunity to catch up with Aaron  and see how Central Scholarship is able to help in his educational journey. Learn how you can make a difference and help other students remove financial barriers and build bright futures with higher education.

saving money

Finding Financial Aid Resources Through College Cash

Posted: 02.24.21

For students and parents, this time of year can be stressful as you think of ways to pay for college and what financial aid resources are available. At Central Scholarship we offer a free informational seminar called College Cash. The seminar is focused on college affordability and financial aid. College Cash helps not only Maryland students but aims to help educate parents about the financial aid process.

According to Sallie Mae COVID-19 hasn’t stopped students from moving forward with higher education but fewer families are completing the FAFSA which means money and resources are being overlooked. We understand finding financial aid can be intimidating but with our free seminar, students, and their families will learn how to navigate the process smoother by:

  • Learning how to maximize federal financial aid
  • Understanding student loans
  • Standing out from the crowd through a scholarship essay
  • Avoiding scholarship award displacement

For students who have not completed their FAFSA but want to continue their higher-level education, submissions, and financial aid decisions are made on a continuous rolling basis. So, it’s not too late to apply.

For students and parents interested in College Cash, the 2021 seminar dates will be posted soon and in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, we are happy to discuss virtual options as well. Please contact Michele Waxman Johnson, Vice President at 410-415-5558 or send Michele an email to schedule a session.

From Nepal to Future Doctor

Posted: 01.26.21

Namrata was born in a refugee camp in Nepal, where since the age of about seven she dreamed of becoming a doctor. At the young age of nine, Namrata and her family came to the United States, where she focused on carving out a path to achieve big, bold goals. Her studies were enhanced when she enrolled in a biomedical sciences magnet program which familiarized herself with medical terminologies, career options, and skills. Namrata’s hard work and dedication not only lead her to become a volunteer as a research assistant in the Hunterian Neurosurgical Laboratory at Johns Hopkins Hospital, but also a Central Scholarship recipient.

This past academic year, Namrata became the second recipient of the Kevin Kamenetz Scholarship Fund and is a freshman studying biology at University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. She told us, “Prior to receiving my Kevin Kamenetz award from Central Scholarship, it was a very difficult time for me. I glazed at my financial letter for a while and was worried about being in financial debt. I knew taking out loans at this age was the last option for me. After receiving the award announcement, I realized that I didn’t need to worry about taking out loans.”

Namrata embodies what it means to be a Central Scholarship scholar. We took some in between her fall and spring semester to see how things were going.

What is your favorite part about being in school?

The best part about school is that it drives my curiosity. The more I learn, the more my curiosity rises. Then, I understand that our true passion derives from curiosity. School teaches me to be ready for the “real” world. The lessons, skills, and philosophies all sum up to help me understand my purpose and work towards my dreams.

What is the biggest challenge you have experienced at school and how did you overcome it?

I started high school as a timid student and used to be afraid of asking questions. My lab experience changed this for the better. As a high school student, I looked forward to learning new things in the lab through observation and practice. At the end of brief explanations, my teachers always asked, “any questions?” I always had questions and learned that the more you seek for answers, the better you learn. By overcoming this challenge, I was able to find myself, my potential leadership qualities, and passion. I know that if I had not asked questions, my skills would not have grown as much.

How has life changed for you during the COVID-19 outbreak personally and academically?

The COVID-19 outbreak brought many changes to my life, especially my plans. My plan was to volunteer until I graduated from high school, but I had to stop in March due to policy changes. I also had to take remote classes during the fall semester. Personally, it has been a very stressful period, but I have learned a few things. First, I learned that anything can happen unexpectedly in life and it is up to us how we react to situations and handle them. Second, I learned time management is very important and even though it has almost been a year since the pandemic, I could make decisions on how to utilize my time.

Do you have any advice for students who are about to start their higher education career?

One of the biggest lessons I learned in school is to ask for help when necessary. It is not very easy for some students to advocate for themselves, but learning to do so will only be helpful for you!

What do you have planned for the future?

I have wanted to be a doctor since I was very young and although it seemed to be a difficult dream in Nepal, I always knew it was possible. When I came to the United States, new opportunities began to open-up, but it was a personal tragedy that had a huge impact. During my second year of biomedical sciences course, my grandmother passed away from gallbladder cancer. One thing I understood was that if we had better healthcare, she would have had a better prognosis and treatment. Having the experience of losing a family member to cancer made me realize that I want to become a surgical oncologist. I know that my purpose is to help people battle cancer.

We’re thankful to have the opportunity to catch up with Namrata and see how Central Scholarship is able to help in her educational journey. Learn how you can make a difference and help other students remove financial barriers and build bright futures with higher education.

Central Scholarship Wins Scholarship Provider of the Year Award

Posted: 10.14.20

Central Scholarship is proud to announce we have been selected as the 2020 winner of the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA) Scholarship Provider of the Year Award in the large category!

The Scholarship Provider of the Year Award showcases scholarship providers that leverage their unique resources to strengthen college access and success, advance industry or professional performance, kick-start innovation, and improve conditions in their community and beyond.

NSPA is a nonprofit membership association with 500+ member organizations who together award more than $4 billion in scholarships annually. Thank you to NSPA for this incredible honor.

Piggy Bank surrounded by coins

Thinking About College Financial Aid

Posted: 10.01.20

It’s that time of year where many students are beginning to think about financing their future college education. Central Scholarship offers a College Cash workshop every year that focuses on teaching students and their families about college affordability. Stay tuned for upcoming College Cash dates in 2021, but in the meantime here are some of our top questions attendees typically ask

Q: What is a financial aid package?

A: A financial aid package is generated by your college or university to illustrate how the cost of school will be paid for, including things like tuition, room and board, and books. Financial aid comes from four sources: the federal government, the state government, your school, and private organizations like Central Scholarship.

Q: Is financial aid “free money,” or do I need to pay it back?

A: Often it is both. Colleges do not have to list loans separately in your financial aid package, so it can be very confusing. If you are confused about what is a loan (money you do have to pay back) and what is a scholarship or grant (money you don’t have to pay back), you should contact your school’s financial aid office and ask them to walk you through it and explain in detail what is and isn’t a loan.

Q: What’s the deal with loans? Should I use them to help pay for school?

A: If possible, you should avoid loaning money to help pay for school. In addition to the initial amount of money you loan, you will have to pay back something called “interest,” which is a percentage of the initial amount of money that is added on over the years it will take you to re-pay. Basically, you will have to pay back more than what you borrowed, and it adds up! That being said, many students do not have a choice but to borrow money to help pay for school.

Luckily, Central Scholarship has an interest-free loan program to help you pay! What you borrow is exactly what you pay back – there is 0% interest on our student loans. You can read more about that program here.

Q: How do I access financial aid for college?

A: First thing’s first: you need to complete your FAFSA to access almost all forms of financial aid. If you are applying with Central Scholarship, you can apply with us between January 1st and the first Monday in April every year via our website. If you are interested in Maryland state financial aid, you can browse through their different scholarships and their corresponding requirements and deadlines on their website. Central Scholarship also encourages you to call your school directly and ask them if there is a separate process for applying for scholarships with them.

 

Move Maryland logo over image of athlete doing a situp

Join MOVE Maryland in Support of Central Scholarship!

Posted: 09.15.20

Help Out While You Workout During MOVE Maryland

What will make you feel better than a great workout? Participating in MOVE Maryland! The event is the perfect opportunity to raise money in support of Central Scholarship while participating in energizing fitness classes with some of Baltimore’s best instructors!

Central Scholarship is honored to partner with MOVE Maryland, a virtual day of wellness to get participants moving and move Maryland’s nonprofits forward. As one of more than two dozen MOVE Maryland partners, Central Scholarship is exited to increase support for our mission while joining other Maryland nonprofits to create one powerful voice for change. MOVE Maryland makes you stronger while making Central Scholarship stronger!

Participants sign up to raise $200 for their chosen nonprofit, and if they meet their goal, they will receive an access code to participate in inspirational online fitness classes. The event presents a wonderful opportunity for groups of employees to foster team building and enjoy a virtual day of fitness and fun while giving back to the community.

How to Participate and Support Central Scholarship

  1. Register and choose Central Scholarship as your favorite nonprofit.
  2. Create a team and give back to the community together!
  3. Rally your network to fundraise.
  4. Join us on November 7th as instructors lead spin, barre, Tae Bo, and family bootcamp sessions, accompanied by the tunes of the legendary DJ Kopec.

Support Central Scholarship’s Critical Mission

Our organization offers generous, crucial support to students, empowering them to consider all types of education, including undergraduate, graduate, and career training studies. The program provides students with more than $1 million per year in interest free student loans and scholarships. Removing financial barriers to education offers these students a lifetime of economic opportunity and mobility.

Sign up for MOVE Maryland today and join us on November 7th for an inspiring day of fitness and support for Central Scholarship!