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Helping People Help People

Helping People Help People

Posted: 01.21.20

We are pleased to feature Jennifer Cook this month. She became a social worker because of her passion for helping others. In 2018, she was the winner of the Student Loan Pay Down which paid up to $30,000 of her student debt. Jennifer was expecting to pay her student loans for the rest of her life, but Central Scholarship relieved that pressure. “Central Scholarship is honestly a guardian angel. They believe that education is a right, not a privilege and that gives me a lot of hope. Knowing they are [here for students] makes me feel a lot less alone,” said Jennifer.


From Left: Nicole Tadzong, Ndeh Tadzong, Jill Kamenetz, and Fru Tadzong

Heritage and Home

Posted: 11.20.19

When Ndeh was young, his father would frequently ask him what he wanted to be when he grew up, and even though his answer would change from firefighter to architect to physician, he knew for sure that he wanted a profession that helped others.

At the age of ten, Ndeh Tadzong’s parents sent him to Cameroon Protestant College (C.P.C.) Bali, a boarding school in Cameroon, West Africa. It was a drastic change from his life in the US. But living with his schoolmates away from home allowed him to have deeper exposure to his cultural heritage, therefore helping him to understand himself better and thus the impact he wanted to have on the world.

In his fourth year of boarding school, Ndeh campaigned and was elected to the position of Assistant Health Prefect. He was a student assistant to the school nurse. If the nurse was not available, ailing students sought out Ndeh’s help for an array of health issues. He ran a basic health assessment, took students to the hospital if they needed to go, and brought them food.

“Cameroon Protestant College Bali taught me to be disciplined, independent, and responsible,” Tadzong said, “Discharging my duties as a Health Prefect confirmed to me that I wanted to become a physician. It was quite a privilege to help students get better.”

In 2017, Ndeh moved back to The States and finished out his junior and senior years at Randallstown High School. He knew he wanted to pursue engineering and medicine in college, so his guidance counselor told him about Central Scholarship.

We were so impressed with Ndeh’s application and story, we awarded him the Kevin Kamenetz Scholarship in August 2019. He entered UMBC in the fall and is expected to graduate in May 2023 with a degree in chemical engineering. We look forward to the positive impact he will make on the world!

From Philosophy to Public Health

Posted: 11.14.19

Kashay grew up in a community in Baltimore City where affordability of healthcare, health literacy, and access to consistent care prevented people from flourishing at home, work, and school. She didn’t recognize the disparity in access to healthcare until she began socializing with her peers who lived in more affluent areas and realized the differences between communities.

In 2015, Kashay heard about Central Scholarship from her high school college counselor. She received her first award in 2015 which helped with her undergraduate costs at Notre Dame of Maryland in Baltimore, where she graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor’s in Philosophy and a minor in Biology. When she was accepted to graduate school, she decided to reapply for a Central Scholarship award to offset the cost of her degree. She is incredibly grateful for the support she has received from Central Scholarship and ecstatic to graduate from Johns Hopkins with a Master’s in Health Administration in 2021.

Kashay’s interest in pursuing a career in public health came from her background in philosophy. Aristotle introduced the notion of eudaimonia, or human flourishing. He argued that human actions are all based on our desire to flourish, which is the highest good attainable in life. She pondered the variety of circumstances people could find themselves in, which would prevent them from attaining eudaimonia. The health inequities she witnessed, growing up, was certainly a roadblock.

Her philosophy is that every individual has a right to flourish over their lifetime—a feat that cannot be accomplished without attaining and maintaining a certain threshold of health. Kashay has made it her mission to increase health care access and equitable delivery of health care services to encourage all human beings to flourish.

We continued to be inspired by the work she does and impressed by her diligence. Keep up the admirable work, Kashay!

Building the Next Generation of Leaders

Posted: 11.05.19

Devon was about 10 years old, growing up in Baltimore City, when he first decided he wanted to go to college. He had always been a gifted child, but when he learned about engineering through the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement program it sparked an interest that would begin to shape the rest of his life.

Central Scholarship first crossed paths with Devon when he attended a College Cash® event to learn about navigating college affordability. He was hesitant to attend because he wasn’t sure how the session could possibly help him reduce his financial burden. Those concerns disappeared as soon as he walked in the door. He was able to learn how to understand financial aid letters, how to find scholarships, what makes a strong essay, and the importance of networking. He left College Cash® feeling energized.

“After reviewing what I had learned, I felt like I won the lottery. I had learned all of the keys to winning a scholarship. I was so excited and I felt like I would eventually burst if I did not share my newly obtained knowledge.”

Devon is currently finishing up his senior year at Morgan State University as an electrical engineering major where he has been an outstanding student, interned at Intel and Facebook, and became President of his fraternity, Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. Under his leadership his Iota Phi Theta was awarded Chapter of the Year by the Eastern Region and Organization of the Year by Morgan State University. He has become a remarkable leader, setting the bar high for his chapter, and has used his platform to develop programs that promote scholarship and leadership among students.

His involvement in Iota Phi Theta also showcases his strolling and stepping talents and just one of the many reasons we are so proud to call Devon a Central Scholarship scholar!

Dezmond Covington: A Vibrant Voice in the Baltimore Community

Posted: 09.23.19

In 1964, Andre De Shields won a financial award from Central Scholarship as a senior at Baltimore City College. The scholarship allowed him to pursue music which eventually led him to Broadway. In 2019, he won a Tony Award for his performance in Hadestown.

Almost two generations later, in 2019, Dezmond Covington, a senior and a member of the Morgan State University Choir, performed for De Shields and an audience of Central Scholarship supporters. It was a momentous experience providing a glimpse of the talent that has been coursing through the veins of Central Scholarship for generations.

Dezmond Covington has been a Central Scholar since 2016. Thanks to the generous support of our donors, he has been awarded $15,000 to help fund his education. Since 2016 Covington has become an RA at MSU and was recently inducted into the Morgan State University Chapter of Collegiate 100 Organization, an organization focused on empowering African American youth.

Dezmond attributes his tenacity and passion for education to his mother, “All of the encouragement she has given me for so long to push past being mediocre had finally stuck,” he said. “She wanted me to know what true, self-made success looked and felt like.”

We’re honored to support such impressive students like Dezmond on their journey to success. Hopefully, in 50 years, a scholar will be performing for him at a Central Scholarship event!

David Boutin

Internship Spotlight: David Boutin

Posted: 06.25.19

David Boutin

David Boutin is a Central Scholarship recipient who was selected as a BGE scholar in 2017. He is currently a rising senior at the University of Maryland College Park majoring in Electrical Engineering and double minoring in Technology Entrepreneurship and Computer Engineering. David is spending his summer in Houston, Texas at a summer internship at ExxonMobil’s Mount Belvieu Polyethylene Plant.

We were able to catch him amidst his busy schedule to ask a few questions about his summer internship.

Central Scholarship: How did you get connected to your internship?

David: I was able to get involved with ExxonMobil by going to the 2018 Society of Hispanic Professional Engineer (SHPE) National Convention in Cleveland, OH.  As the Vice President of UMD’s chapter, I was able to network with ExxonMobil employees and hiring managers at the career fair there who pushed me along further in the selection process. I was chosen for the internship because of my forward-thinking and interest in the biofuels and renewable energies that ExxonMobil is getting involved with.

CS: What will you be doing at ExxonMobil this summer? What does your work look like day-to-day?

David: This summer I am working as a Control Systems Intern at ExxonMobil’s Mount Belvieu Polyethylene Plant in Houston, Texas. My first project attacks their Road to 2020 initiative, which aims to upgrade all server and workstation equipment with new software and new hardware. By the end of the summer, I am projected to bring the site from 0% to 95% completion on this initiative. Another aspect of the ExxonMobil Houston Internship Program is the many social, professional, and service events in the Houston area that we are highly encouraged to attend throughout the summer. This maximizes the potential of what the interns can get out of the summer by allowing us to meet and network with as many of the full-time employees and 400 other interns in the Houston area as possible.

CS: What are some tips you could give students on how to land an internship?

David: My biggest tip for college students trying to find an internship is to attend events and workshops that the company you are interested in is hosting on your campus. You are incredibly more likely to make it to a further step in the hiring process if you make a real, personal connection to a recruiter or hiring manager and can follow-up with him or her.

CS: Anything you’d like to add?

David: Central Scholarship has changed my life in so many ways and I hope to one day be able to give back and fund a scholarship of my own with the organization while being an inspiration to those who also grew up in an underprivileged household. Becoming a recipient of the BGE Scholarship has enabled me to continue my education without the significant financial burden which plagued my freshman year of college. I hope to stay closely connected to Kayla, Nancy, and everyone involved with the BGE Scholars as I continue in my academic and professional career.

We appreciate your time and feedback, David! Good luck this summer. We know you’ll do an amazing job!

Sometimes All You Need is a Vote of Confidence

Posted: 05.23.19

Dr. Promise Olomo was the first Central Scholarship alumni to present at Bagels with Jerry, our quarterly meet-and-greet breakfast series, which took place on April 17, 2019. His story is as compelling as it is inspirational, and the attendees loved hearing about his path to personal and professional success.

When Olomo came to the US from Nigeria, he struggled to afford food and clothing, much less an education. He had to drop out of college the first time around because he couldn’t afford the $50 deposit for room and board. His Resident Life Director told him, “In my 35 years of administration, I’ve never seen a student as poor as yourself.” When he heard that, Olomo’s stomach dropped (and then so did his enrollment). He lived with friends and worked odd jobs for three years until he decided to give his education another shot. He put his first semester costs at Prince George’s Community College on his credit card. He went to school Monday through Friday and worked 32 hours over the weekend (7am-11pm Saturdays and Sundays) to make ends meet.

He decided to look for scholarship opportunities to offset the cost of his education. At Bagels with Jerry, Dr. Olomo spoke about how much it meant to him to receive the award from Central Scholarship. “The scholarship was validation that someone believed in me. That made such a difference.” He went on to say, “Some people have to study three or four times harder than the average student. You can imagine how difficult it is for them to struggle with financial stress while trying to excel in school. When they’re awarded a scholarship, it sends the message that someone has faith in what they’re doing, and it motivates them not to give up.”

Dr. Olomo went on to receive his Ph.D. in Administration of Anesthesia. While studying at Johns Hopkins University, he made donations to Central Scholarship to pay it forward to future recipients. “It blew me away that the people from this organization took a chance on a stranger. You had no idea what I was capable of, and yet, you believed in me. I am forever grateful. This is my family, my community now.”

We couldn’t be prouder of Dr. Promise Olomo. We are honored to have him as a member of the Central Scholarship family. Stay tuned for updates from the next Bagels with Jerry in a few months!

Why Tawanna chose to pursue career training

Posted: 05.07.19

Tawanna knew her next career move involved becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). This type of position cares for people who are ill or recovering from surgery or a disease and for Tawanna this was the perfect job.  Not everyone is cut out for this type of responsibility, but because she loves working with people and takes the golden rule to heart- always treat others the way you wish to be treated- she knew she would excel.

Even before Tawanna knew about Central Scholarship, she called every Maryland CNA certification program and found out how much each program cost, when classes would be held, and how long it would take to complete. There was just one problem. As a single mother, Tawanna couldn’t afford these programs, but she was determined to find a way.

One day, Tawanna stumbled across Central Scholarship’s career training scholarships. Her first thought was, “This is too good to be true!” Even so, she knew this was her opportunity. She carefully reviewed the application and over the course of 3 days she crafted thoughtful responses and even went back several times to review exactly what she wrote. She wanted it to be perfect and when she felt she had done her best, she pressed the submit button. Now, all she could do was wait.

Tawanna did not get to this point without her share of challenges and she has kept moving forward because of her tenacious and resilient spirit, qualities we should all aspire to. As she waited to hear if she was selected for an interview she thought to herself even if she wasn’t chosen it was wonderful this program would help others achieve their dreams.

It wasn’t too long before Tawanna received a phone call asking her to come in for an interview. She was very excited, but was nervous because she wasn’t sure what to expect. When the day of the interview came and she walked through the door, her nerves began to go away. After all, she had been committed to furthering her career all while juggling the responsibilities of a single mom and she knew how hard she worked for this opportunity. In her interview, she spoke about her career goals and the dreams she hoped to achieve. She left feeling it went well, but was still nervous about the outcome.

As she once again waited for a phone call from Central Scholarship, Tawanna decided that no matter what happened she was determined to complete a CNA program and would find a way. Fortunately, that was not a bridge she had to cross. She was soon notified she had received a career training scholarship and the entire cost of her program would be covered! Tawanna had done so much research on CNA programs prior to receiving the scholarship that she started her program four days after she was notified.

As soon as Tawanna had completed her CNA program she had multiple job opportunities lined up. She is currently working with two different companies and is already thinking about the next steps to achieve her big goal, becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN).

We owe so much gratitude to Tawanna and students just like her who have chosen to pursue career training. Graduates of CNA programs are the ones who provide in-person care to our loved ones when they need help with basic daily activities. We are fortunate to have Tawanna in this profession because of deep appreciation for this responsibility.

Tawanna’s biggest cheerleader is her eight year old son who always makes sure she completes her homework. He is her inspiration to keep growing in her career so she can provide him a great life and we are honored that we have been able to play a role in that journey.

How Kiarra found a new path

Posted: 03.28.19

In high school, Kiarra was an honor roll student all four years with dreams of becoming a certified orthodontist. Growing up she witnessed people being turned down for things like braces because they couldn’t afford it and she started dreaming of opening up a practice that would give more people access to cosmetic dentistry. She originally started working on this goal by enrolling in college as a biology major, but it just didn’t feel right.  She did some research on dental assistant programs and quickly realized this was a different path to becoming an orthodontist. By completing this program, she could start working in the dental field immediately and gain real work experience, while having an income. This would position her to consider future educational options to progress to a dental hygienist and then an orthodontist. Kiarra is such an impressive student because she realized there was not just one path to achieving her goal. The benefits of a career training program allowed her to immediately work in the dentistry field while giving her an income that could empower her to make different educational choices in the future.

Dicheaker reminds us its never too late to pursue your goals!

Posted: 03.04.19

When Dicheaker was 37 years old she decided to go back to school. Every decision she makes is for her children to show them “regardless  of what you go through you can still push forward and become anything you want.”  She enrolled in a patient care technician program that set her up for a career working in settings such as hospitals and health care agencies to perform tasks like drawing blood and administering other medical tests.  Dicheaker was so successful in her patient care technician program that she didn’t stop there with her education. She enrolled in a respiratory therapy program that would train her to work with patients who have chronic breathing conditions. Once she completed this program, Dicheaker knew “things were really rolling and she could do this.”  Central Scholarship and Dicheaker have played a big part in each other’s lives. We helped push her forward by financially funding her education and she inspires us to keep growing our career training scholarships.