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CS receives contribution from Kamenetz Committee

CS receives contribution from Kamenetz Committee

Posted: 06.14.18

Central Scholarship is honored to receive a contribution from the Committee for Kamenetz in honor of the lifetime work of Kevin Kamenetz. We are grateful to have the opportunity to fulfill Kevin’s commitment to education.

Meet Nikki McNeil – March 2017 Scholar of the Month

Posted: 02.08.17

Nikki McNeil is just months away from completing a Master’s program in Social Work at University of Maryland, Baltimore after receiving scholarship assistance from Central Scholarship.

Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Foundation Scholars Grant Recipient Nikki McNeil working with the Latino community in East Baltimore Since 2015, Nikki has paired her ongoing education with firsthand work experience throughout Baltimore and in Chile. In her current internship at the Southeast Community Development Corporation, she is working as a community organizer in a community that is 70% Latino. In her time with Southeast CDC, Nikki has referred homebuyers to mortgage plans, assisted the neighborhood association with community events including clean-ups, planned a six-week health-themed after-school program for students and parents, and received funding for a community vegetable garden allowing Ecuadorian families to share their farming experience with other residents. Her ongoing course studies include gentrification, racism, organizational research, fundraising, as well as preparation for licensing exams.

Nikki is the recipient of Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Foundation Scholars Grant at Central Scholarship. The fund helps students in Master’s program in the social work or mental health fields, pursuing a career as a bilingual specialist in those fields.

After graduation this Spring, Nikki hopes to work as a case manager for Spanish-speaking adults, eventually attaining a leadership role in support of Latin American immigrants.

In her own words: “Each and every day, the most I can be proud of is taking the next step, as long as it is the biggest and boldest step within my reach. A Baltimore pastor decided to take the next step and teach a college student about the history of his city, a homeless advocate took the next step to invite me to hand out coffee at downtown encampments, and victims of a Chilean fire took the next step to reach out to an American girl at their shelter. What these individuals gave to me through their wisdom and experiences, and what I gain through my education, I intend to invest fully at every step along my journey.”

William and Richard Shock Scholarship Recipient Peggy Houng

Peggy, Harpist

Posted: 10.26.16

Peggy Houng has been playing instruments from the time she was in kindergarten. She matriculated with a dual Bachelor’s in Cognitive Science and Harp Performance from Johns Hopkins University in 2014 and continued on to Indiana University where she is in the second year of a Master of Music degree in Harp Performance. Peggy has had the opportunity to travel to different countries to compete in harp competitions and tour with an orchestra. She performed in Asia during a three-week tour and she has taught children and organized recitals in her spare time.

Peggy hopes to ultimately continue her studies at the doctorate level, start a private harp studio, and obtain a teaching position at a university. She writes that she “could not imagine a life without music” because it “inspires her every day.” Peggy was recently featured in a Baltimore Sun article and video report about musicians who bring joy to residents at a senior home. Central Scholarship was proud to award Peggy with a scholarship from the William and Richard Shock Endowed Scholarship Fund.

Hal Cohen Scholarship Recipient Shana Dell

Shanna, Nurse & Advocate

Posted: 09.15.16

Shanna Dell is close to finishing her Master’s in Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. For three years, she has worked as a nurse case manager at a clinic in East Baltimore in order to supplement tuition costs. She hopes to use her Master’s degree to prevent the spread of infection, decrease complications from chronic disease, and allow for greater health care access to all who need it in the community. Shanna also works with the Center for Disease Control through their partnership with the Baltimore City Health Department to increase the uptake of pre-exposure prophylactics in high-risk communities. Her role involves coordinating with clinics and the health department to decrease the spread of HIV.

Shanna received the Hal Cohen Endowed Scholarship at Central Scholarship. Carefirst established the fund to honor the incredible legacy of Dr. Cohen, renowned health care economist. The fund helps students pursuing undergraduate or masters degrees in healthcare policy, healthcare financing or economics.

In her free time, Shanna volunteers with Moveable Feast, a non-profit organization in Baltimore that delivers nutritious meals to people living with HIV and other life-threatening diseases. She participates in a 140-mile bike ride every year to help raise money for the cause.

Congrats, Keia

Posted: 08.15.16

Congratulations to August’s Grand Prize College Cash® winner, Keia McDaniel. Keia attended the “Finding Money for College” session in the winter at the University of Baltimore. As the first in her family to attend college, Keia is determined to move forward with her dream of a degree despite financial obstacles. She sought out “Finding Money for College” as a tool to help her reach her goal – and she was rewarded.  Keia’s winning essay is featured below:

Attending Central Scholarship’s seminar was both eye opening and worthwhile. As a senior at the University of Baltimore, I did not think that this seminar would offer me any information that I did not already know about. To my surprise, my assumption was wrong. As the first in my family to attend college, I have had to learn a lot of lessons about funding my education the hard way. I did not have anyone to walk me through all the details of how to fund my education without incurring debt.

The hosts of the event, Angela and Jennifer, did an exceptional job explaining all of the different resources that were out there. Some of these resources were familiar to me, but there were many resources that they mentioned that I had no idea existed. There were several “ah ha” moments that made me reflect on my current situation and how I will apply this knowledge to fund the remainder of my education.

I gained some valuable knowledge about how student loans worked. For instance, I had never really understood the difference between the subsidized and unsubsidized loan. Jennifer explained the difference to us using an analogy. She explained that the same way substitute teachers fill in for a teacher, the federal government fills in for us to pay the interest on our subsidized loans while we are attending school. On the other hand, Jennifer explained that we would be responsible for the interest with the unsubsidized loan. This interest can be paid while still attending school or after your education is complete. Waiting until after your education is complete comes with consequences because the interest on unsubsidized loans will continue to accrue. This made me realize that I should have taken the time to fully understand all of the consequences of taking out student loans much sooner.

McDaniel
Over the past year, I had to increasingly rely on student loans to attend school because I did not have any other funds available to me. This made sense to me when Angela showed us some alarming statistics. What stuck out to me was that over sixty percent of students who attend school for four years or more struggle to find funding. It was like she was talking right to me. She explained that schools will reserve certain funds to attract incoming students. It changed the way that I approach funding my education. For example, I was still faced with a small bill to pay my school at the end of my fall 2015 semester. After speaking with several people in my financial aid office informing them that I was aware of some of these practices to withhold funds to attract new students, I was able to get a grant to cover the remainder of my fall bill. I am grateful for having the opportunity to have attended this event.

Although my undergraduate education is almost complete; I can still apply a lot of the information that I received at this seminar to my future educational endeavors. Attending this seminar really showed me that I did not need to rely so heavily of student loans to fund my education. I could have left the seminar feeling sorry about incurring so much student debt and not putting in the effort needed to look for suitable funding or more affordable educational options. However, I left this seminar feeling empowered because I now have some knowledge that will guide me in my future educational decisions.

‘Parent’s Guide to Finding and Funding College’ Aug 31

Posted: 08.12.16

Central Scholarship will host a free and open to the community College Cash® seminar for parents of high school students on August 31st.  Please join us at the Hotel at Arundel Preserve for a seminar about navigating the college search and how financial aid works. Whether parents attended college or not, they want to help their children get into great schools and afford higher education. Due to rapidly rising tuition costs and financial aid changes, parents have to educate themselves in order to help their children.

This free seminar is specifically geared toward parents helping students through the process of finding and funding college. Register to attend.

Central Scholarship Presents $30,000 Award to Cecil County Grad Student

Posted: 08.11.16

Central Scholarship Student Loan Pay-Down Award Winner Angela Anthony
After providing financial aid for Angela Anthony to pursue higher education, Central Scholarship (CS) has dramatically stepped in to help the first generation college student from Warwick pay off her student debt.

At last week’s 2016 Student Awards Ceremony, the nonprofit selected Anthony as the winner in its second annual Student Loan Pay-Down lottery, presenting her with a check for $30,000.

Seven in 10 college seniors graduate with an average of $37,000 in student loan debt. Through the generosity of Ira and Marcia Wagner (CS’ board chair and his wife), CS is presenting the Student Loan Pay-Down Award to one qualifying graduate every year through the nonprofit’s 100th anniversary in 2024.

Anthony’s name was announced after this year’s drawing among 34 eligible candidates.

“I have worked 20 to 30 hours a week since I was an undergrad to pay off my loans, but in an instant, half of my student debt was gone,” said Anthony, who is finishing a master’s program in international development at Eastern University in Pennsylvania. “This is such a blessing!”

“I’m truly thankful for the generosity of this organization,” which is changing the lives of so many students and making their dreams come true – regardless of the burdens that they have,” she added.

After graduating from Bohemia Manor High School and attending Cecil College, Anthony turned to Central Scholarship for interest free loans to help finance her undergraduate tuition.

A Dean’s List student and tennis team captain, Anthony traveled the Atlantic Ocean to Europe, Africa and South America in the Semester at Sea Global Study Abroad Experience, “realizing that not only is there great beauty in this world, but there is also immense poverty.”

“Because of what I saw on my voyage, I decided to become a leader with Youth Against Complacency and Homelessness Today and pursue a career in international development,” she said.

Central Scholarship President Jan Wagner, Board Chair Ira Wagner and his wife Marcia present the Student Loan Pay-Down Award to Angela Anthony
After earning a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2015, she embarked on graduate studies – with more help from Central Scholarship.

“Central Scholarship was a huge supporter of me achieving my undergraduate degree, offering awards each year I was in school which relieved me of a financial burden while I was in school,” she said. “I had hoped that Central Scholarship would be that same blessing for me while pursing my Master’s degree, and thankfully, again they so graciously provided.”

“This extra money in the form of the Interest Free Loan has allowed me to spend more time in my studies and less time working to pay for school,” she added, noting that throughout college, she has worked a variety of jobs including van driver, hostess, merchandiser, assistant lay director at a church and events staff at a catering facility to pay down her loans.

With the $30,000 award, she can be even more career-focused with a lot less pressure on her shoulders.

“Angela Anthony exemplifies the type of students that Central Scholarship looks to fund – those with the drive and determination to go after their goals despite financial hardship,” said Central Scholarship President Jan Moylan Wagner, MBA. “We were delighted to assist her in pursuing higher education and now delighted we can help her pay down her student debt.”

Congrats, Devon & Victoria

Posted: 07.18.16

July College Cash Winner Devon Campbell
Congratulations to July’s College Cash® winners, Devon Campbell (photo left) and Victoria Ekeanyanwu (photo below). Devon attended the “Finding Money for College” session where he learned about the vast world of scholarship opportunities available to him. He writes, “After reviewing what I had learned, I felt like I won the lottery.” Devon’s newfound knowledge helps him pay for Morgan State University, where he is studying electrical engineering. With two more school years ahead of him, Devon has plenty of time to brush up on techniques to save money on tuition and living costs in college. Following the event, we ask College Cash® scholarship applicants to write an essay describing what they learned. Devon wrote:

Upon receiving an invitation to the College Cash® event, I immediately thought “This will be a waste of time.” What could the people at this event tell me that I did not learn from my guidance counselor or any other financial advisers? I decided to attend the event anyway because it was free, close to home, and I had nothing planned for the day. When I arrived, the staff offered me refreshments, a folder full of scholarship and grant information, and a free pen. My attitude toward the event changed instantly because I am a sucker for free gifts. I entered the lecture hall and prepared to take notes on my phone.

By the end of the event, I had overloaded my brain with endless information. It felt like I wrote down every word that was spoken and filled the folder with thousands of annotations. I learned of many scholarship and grant opportunities, the important components to a strong essay, and what not to include in the essays. For example, a strong essay tells a story but does not ramble. I learned much more information, but the most important points were to keep my opportunities open, choose opportunities where the odds are in my favor, and email the committee to start networking with them. I found these to be the most important points because they can greatly improve the chances of winning. I can also use them outside of applying for scholarships. I could apply these tips when applying for a job or an internship. For instance, after a job interview, make sure to contact the employer to show interest in the job position. The event made me realize that I was limiting myself to a rather small amount of opportunities and that resulted in no scholarship money.

After reviewing what I had learned, I felt like I won the lottery. I had learned all of the keys to winning a scholarship and maybe even a job title. I was so excited and I felt like I would eventually burst if I did not share my newly obtained knowledge. I went home and sent my notes to my college roommates, fellow band members, and even students still in high school. I also informed them of the event taking place the following day. I knew that I was decreasing my chances for winning money but I needed to help others. As long as I could help someone save money and avoid debt, I felt like a winner. Since then, dozens of people have told me that they have decided to apply for scholarships using the notes that I sent them. Assuming that they will also share my notes, I have to change my application strategy for scholarships and other opportunities.

I plan to expand my search by looking for scholarships through companies, government agencies, schools, and more. A number of scholarships get declined because the essay did not express what the committee was looking for, so I will seek help from others to review my essay. If my strategy does not win scholarships, I believe that I have pulled away many lessons from the event that can be applied in many other places. I am glad that I attended the event and I will make sure that I take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way. I would like to thank the Central Scholarship team for giving me the opportunity to pay for college and further my education. Hopefully I can make an impact on others in the same way that Central Scholarship impacted me.

July College Cash Winner Victoria Ekeanyanwu
Victoria Ekeanyanwu
is a student at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. As a third year law student, Victoria knows a thing or two about graduate school loans.  She attended a College Cash® session about managing student loans that is geared toward students who are getting ready to graduate. She wrote:

As a current graduate student with existing student loans and continuing to receive loans, my attendance at Central Scholarship’s College Cash® Student Loans event was very necessary. After I stopped working in July 2014 to begin graduate school full time and no longer had a source of income, I stopped making student loan payments. Instead, I deferred my payments and neglected to monitor my account not realizing the repercussions of my actions. At the event, I learned what could happen when one defaults on a loan. I learned that I could be reported to credit bureaus and no longer be eligible for federal student aid. The information relayed at this event, especially the Student Loan Repayment Tips handout, reminded me that I am doing all the wrong things.

The first message that impacted me was to get organized, develop a plan, and stay on course—never missing a payment. Following the event, I finally logged on to my Nelnet account to find out how much I owe. I also visited AnnualCreditReport.com to check my private loans balances to confirm that I had none. Using the Know Your Loans: Student Loan Quiz that we completed at the event, I made a chart to organize. I listed the types of loans I have, the total amount borrowed, the interest rates, and the due dates. Based on how long I expect to take to repay my loans, I developed a plan. I plan to pay off the most expensive loans first. And to avoid delinquency and default, I plan to pay each month and on time. I hope to resume work as soon as possible and will stay on course.

The second message that impacted me was to pay more now to save more later. Like most students, I made minimum student loan payments when I did make payments. Thanks to the event, I now realize it is wise to pay more as it saves me time and money. By paying extra principal each month and paying biweekly instead of monthly, I now realize I will pay less interest over the life of my loans and repay my loan earlier. Moving forward, I will put any extra money that I earn, towards my student loan payments so that I can get out of debt sooner.

Congrats, Wanda & Fela

Posted: 06.01.16

June College Cash Winner Wanda Parks
Congratulations to our first two College Cash® scholarship winners, Wanda Parks and Fela Langston. Wanda Parks (pictured on the left) graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from Coppin State University this month. She attended the January “Finding Money for College” College Cash® session. Following the event, we ask College Cash® scholarship applicants to write an essay describing what they learned. Wanda wrote:

In a session about finding money for college, oddly, the most important thing I learned was the part about writing the essay. As a whole, I am confident in my writing skills. I am currently taking English as a minor and have even published some of my writings before. So, while there was quite a bit of good information during the session like “use your time wisely,” “build your network,” and “proofread, then proofread again,” the most important things to me were the reminders to stand out, to show my passion, and to be excited about me. I consider myself to be quite ordinary and somewhat boring. I am still in the process of figuring out how to stand out, and to be excited about me, but I am so glad I attended the session to get my thoughts flowing in the direction of identifying my passion.

In the College Cash® seminar, the question was asked, “What is the key thing, the main aspect of who you are?” The first thing that came to my mind was, “I am a mom.” That sounds so basic and normal and there isn’t really much exciting about it. So, I struggled with that. I thought, “How do I translate that into something that helps me to stand out, show my passion or get someone excited about me?”

As I thought, I began to remember just how many things I have done that have been tied up in being a better parent and helping others to be better parents. At 20, I volunteered at the Woodbourne Center with teen moms; later I attended MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) both for support and to be supportive. When four of my children were lead poisoned, I helped to start a grassroots organization informing parents about lead poisoning. I have led parenting classes and have worked at organizations dedicated to helping parents raise healthy children.

This exercise of thinking about what is or shows my passion has actually helped me in deciding the direction I want to take for graduate school. I now know that I want to look into public health, particularly policy that affects women and children. I plan to eventually earn my doctorate, maybe write a book or two. Regardless of any of the other things I hope to accomplish in my life, I will always consider being mom to six of the greatest children ever as my “claim to fame.”

I am still working on creating a brag sheet, how to stand out and be excited about me. I’ve come to realize that is important whether it helps me to get money for college or not. I will apply this information to be a better, more confident me. And, I will work on showing that, not just in essays but in everyday life.

June College Cash Winner Fela Langston
Fela Langston
 (pictured left) just completed her junior year at Salem College. She is pursuing a double major in music and political science. Fela also attended January’s session and wrote about what she learned:

Central Scholarship’s College Cash® event provided me with a new outlook on the search for scholarships, grants, and loans. The yearly search for scholarships has been more difficult than deciding which schools were best suited for me. It was much easier to look at colleges and universities and decide which ones fit my interests. When applying for scholarships, I always look at the requirements in terms of what I am good enough for instead of what “fits my talents.” I was so happy to hear that phrase during the event because it has a much more positive impact on the search for college cash. Finding scholarships that fit my talents will encourage me to highlight my accomplishments instead of focusing on things I lack or need to improve.

Some information I found extremely valuable was the fact that a lot of funding goes unused because a lot of students are unaware that it exists. For example, although I knew about some local funding, I knew very little about legislative scholarships before attending the College Cash® seminar. Although I will not be able to take advantage of this information during my undergraduate career because I currently attend a college out of state, I will definitely apply this information during my search for grad school funding.

Although I have taken out student loans, the College Cash® event made me realize how little I actually know about federal and private loans. For example, I didn’t know loans could be paid off through funding, nor did I realize that the government pays interest for my subsidized loans while I am a student. Another message that stood out to me was how important it is to email professionals to thank them for speaking or lecturing. Thanking professionals for their time has the potential to build my network and develop a relationship with an individual or company that could lead to an internship or job opportunity. 

Overall, Central Scholarship’s College Cash® event was extremely beneficial. Attending this seminar made me feel like I will have a more guided and productive scholarship search in the future.

Hal Cohen Endowed Scholarship Fund recipient Eric Roberts

Eric, Public Health Advocate

Posted: 05.18.16

Eric Roberts, a Hal Cohen Endowed Scholarship Fund recipient, completed his dissertation work at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Carefirst established the fund to honor the incredible legacy of Dr. Cohen, renowned health care economist. The fund helps students pursuing undergraduate or masters degrees in healthcare policy, healthcare financing or economics.  Eric defended his dissertation in the spring of last year. Titled “Essays on Markets for Primary Care Services for Medicaid Adults”, his dissertation explores how adults in the Medicaid program use health care services and the effects of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid on the use of health care services.

Eric is currently in a post-bac fellowship at Harvard Medical School. He is awaiting several article publications, and gives credit to Hal Cohen in one of them. Central Scholarship is proud to fund students like Eric who advocate for a more fair and efficient health care system.