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Wes Moore Helps Baltimore

Wes Moore Helps Baltimore

Posted: 11.20.14

Central Scholarship Board Chair Ira Wagner, BridgeEdU student Kristen, and author Wes Moore

Wes Moore stopped by the office today to speak to Central Scholarship board and staff about his work with Baltimore City students.  Wes lives in Baltimore and originally gained notoriety through The Other Wes Moore, published in 2010, a true story of another Wes Moore that grew up nearby but met a dramatically different fate.  Moore is a bestselling author, Rhodes Scholar, Army combat veteran, and executive producer and host of both Beyond Belief on the Oprah Winfrey Network and the American Graduate Initiative, a platform focusing on reforms happening in the global educational landscape on PBS.  Recently, President Obama nominated him to serve as a Board Member for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

Wes (pictured above with BridgeEdU student Kristen and Central Scholarship board chair Ira Wagner) shared information about BridgeEdU – a program he founded which helps Baltimore City students in their first year of college at University of Baltimore.  BridgeEdU supports a cohort of students at the University of Baltimore through service experiences, professional internships, a family mentality, and an “entrepreneurial approach to college and career planning.”  The first cohort of students began their journey this year and Kristen shared her positive experience with our board and staff.  By founding BridgeEdU, Wes and his team have created a supportive program that could be the missing piece of the puzzle for Baltimore City students.

Leah, 90th Anniversary Performer

Posted: 10.30.14

Central Scholarship recipient Leah Claiborne

Leah Claiborne is October’s Scholar of the Month and a featured performer at our upcoming 90th anniversary celebration. Leah’s passion for playing the piano started at an early age.  When she was five years old, her parents took her to see one of the world’s greatest pianists, Leon Fleisher, perform with the National Symphony Orchestra.  “I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to produce such a heavenly sound.”  A month after seeing Fleisher perform, Leah began taking piano lessons.  At eight years old, Leah won her first national piano competition.

Leah began her college career in New York City studying piano performance and pedagogy at the Manhattan School of Music, one of the top music conservatories in the world.  After graduating from the Manhattan School of Music, Leah began her graduate career pursuing a double degree in piano performance and piano pedagogy at the University of Michigan.

Leah will perform at our 90th anniversary celebration, Central Scholarship’s Got Talent, in November.  Please join us on November 8th in celebrating our 90th birthday for a night of performances by our talented scholarship recipients.

CS featured in Jewish Times, “Still Going Strong at 90”

Posted: 10.28.14

Did you catch us in the Jewish Times this month?  Pick up your copy and read about our history. Did you know we started in 1924 as an organization that funded orphaned Jewish boys attending vocational school? We’re proud to celebrate helping Maryland students for 90 years!  Read the article here and join us on November 8th to celebrate our 90th anniversary in Baltimore for a fun evening reception and show by our performing arts students.

Central Scholarship Named 2014 “Top Rated Non Profit”

Posted: 10.22.14

Great Nonprofits 2014 Top-Rated Award Badge

For the fifth year in a row, Central Scholarship has been named a “Top Rated Non Profit” in the country. Thank you to the wonderful students who have taken time to write reviews about the work we do at Central Scholarship.  As a result of our students’ testimonies, we are in the top five most rated nonprofits in Maryland, and the most rated education non profit in the state.

Brandon Maryland, a student at the University of Maryland, writes, “Central Scholarship is a blessing to so many. I have learned this first hand by being the recipient of a very generous scholarship from CS. CS helped me beat the odds of falling prey to the negatives of inner city Baltimore, by providing financial support for me to explore the realms of academics in college. I can credit my recent admission into Towson University’s nursing program to the folks at CS. Central Scholarship recognized potential in me but also gave me a standard to strive for academically, sending me on a trajectory towards success.”

Courtney, 90th Anniversary Performer

Posted: 09.29.14

Central Scholarship recipient Courtney Wersick
Since the age of ten, the thing that has made Courtney Wersick happiest is performing. From the moment she stepped onto a little stage in the gymnasium of her elementary school as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, she knew she would not be happy in any other career. “I want to spend every day, using music to shed light on the lives of others,” writes Courtney. “I believe music is a universal language – crossing all barriers of culture, class, and race.” Courtney hopes to change the reputation of classical music for the younger generation. She wants to introduce this genre of music to those who may have written it off and showcase its beauty. Courtney is a vocal performance student at Towson University. She sees herself eventually performing around the world sharing music and her voice with others. Courtney was thrilled to receive The Richard Louis Caplan Endowed Scholarship for Music in 2014.  

Now YOU can watch Courtney perform at Central Scholarship’s Got Talent, our 90th anniversary celebration on November 8th.  Buy tickets today and come out for an evening of dinner and performances by our talented performing arts scholarship recipients at the Brown Center at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).  We look forward to watching Courtney perform on stage at MICA next month and we hope you will join us.

Legg Mason Scholarship Fund for Vocational Students Recipient Tavon Daye

Featured Scholar of the Month

Posted: 08.28.14

Congratulations to Tavon Daye, our August Scholar of the Month.  Tavon completed training at CCBC and received his computer repair certification.  He is 23 years old and was born and raised in Baltimore City.  He hopes to set a good example for his two younger sisters by earning certification and skills education to help him begin his career.  In his own words, he writes, “My professional goal is to get all of the education and training that I can get so that I can prepare for an excellent career to support my family, instead of struggling with a nine to five at McDonalds.”

Unfortunately, Pell grants and financial aid are not applicable to Tavon’s training program.  He is from a low-income single-parent home that does not have the financial resources to support Tavon’s educational pursuits so he turned to Central Scholarship.  After receiving The Legg Mason Scholarship Fund for Vocational Students, Tavon thanked us “from the bottom of my heart.”  Central Scholarship’s vocational training scholarship application is open year round and applications are accepted on a rolling basis.  To apply, click here and scroll down to Career & Technology Students.

CS awards over $1 mil to 2014 scholars

Posted: 08.12.14

Central Scholarship recipients at the 2014 Student Awards Ceremony
Congratulations to this year’s scholarship recipients!  We celebrated our new scholars with a packed house reception at the Vollmer Visitor Center inside of the Cylburn Arboretum.  Click here to see a list of all 2014 scholarship recipients.

Our student speaker this year, Shaquil Timmons, shared his story of growing up around friends and adults who did not expect him to be successful because of his background.  Nonetheless, he graduated from Woodlawn High School, and then Stevenson University this past spring and launched an entertainment company.  We were also thrilled that Senator Barbara Mikulski delivered a letter to be read at the awards ceremony congratulating Central Scholarship students.  She writes, “Congratulations to all of this evening’s scholarship winners.  You have prevailed over many other candidates for this award and have worked long and hard to earn this coveted distinction.  What a stunning affirmation to your commitment to academic excellence and motivation to succeed.  Enjoy your place in the spotlight.  I know your family and friends are very proud of you and so am I.”

We also heard keynote Danielle DiFerdinando speak about heading a successful handbag company at the young age of twenty seven.  Danielle spoke of her rise from Ellicott City, Maryland to New York City where she is currently running Danielle Nicole, a company that has received national attention from celebrities like Rachel Zoe and Oprah.  At the conclusion of the ceremony, we surprised Brett Libowitz with the grand prize College Cash scholarship sponsored by Howard County General Hospital.  Brett wrote an exemplary essay about what he learned from our College Cash seminar in January.

We are thrilled to award scholarships to students in our 90th year of service to the community.  We thank our students for being hardworking achievers and we thank our loyal donors for their continued generous support.

Brett, College Cash Winner

Posted: 07.31.14

College Cash Scholarship recipient Brett Libowitz
Congratulations to Brett Libowitz, our 2014 College Cash Grand Prize Winner and July’s Scholar of the Month!  Brett graduated from high school this past spring and he will begin studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Virginia this month.  Read his essay below:

The single most important thing I learned at the College Cash 101 event was to advocate for myself. Prior to the seminar, I thought the financial aid and scholarship process was out of my control. I planned to apply for scholarships and aid, submit my paperwork, and let the process take its course. However, the information I received encouraged me to exhort time and effort in order to oversee and manage the process and ultimately make my financial goals a reality.

I discovered that there is scholarship money available that is not advertised, but can be tapped into by reaching out. Since the “Cash 101” seminar, I have contacted the four senators and delegates of the eleventh district to receive scholarship applications and I have begun to apply. In the past, I searched college’s websites for scholarship opportunities, but I learned that there may be more opportunities available if I ask the offices of admissions or contact specific departments.

The meeting highlighted essays as a place to promote myself and explained how to do so. This meeting began to teach me the value of showing rather than telling in personal essays. For example, I was able to replace a statement about my dedication in training for the Baltimore Marathon with recollections of twenty-one mile training runs early on Saturday mornings. In this example, I was able to make a stronger statement about myself by showing my experience rather than merely stating it. This seminar charged me to portray myself in the best light possible in order to achieve my goals in the college application process.

Prior to the session, I believed that the financial package I was dealt was incontestable, but learned that I can go to the financial aid office and request an improved package I feel I deserve. As a result of the information provided, I will potentially take two actions I would not have otherwise. If I truly desire to go to a university but cannot justify the cost as is, I will communicate with the financial aid office seeking money available for prospective students in my situation. Secondly, if I lose need-based aid because I receive private scholarships I will argue to redeem these need based federal funds. I learned that it is worthwhile to make an attempt at requesting changes to my financial aid and grant money.

Central Scholarship’s College Cash 101 event empowered me with the information necessary to put my best foot forward in my ventures to receive financial assistance for my higher education.

Although I found the program to be extremely informative, I would have liked more information on when a more expensive college is worth the cost of attendance. I would have appreciated more coverage on the factors to consider in making a decision like this. I feel a section next year based on when it may be worthwhile to spend more on college would be beneficial, but either way I am grateful for the commitment Central Scholarship makes to those seeking an affordable college experience!

Please join us for upcoming College Cash events throughout the year for opportunities to win scholarships and learn about the financial aid process.

Hadja, Scholar of the Month

Posted: 06.30.14

Kenneth S. Battye Charitable Trust recipient Hadja Barry and her father
Hadja Barry’s family is from West Africa.  When Hadja graduated from high school, she worked at a day care center because she enjoys helping others.  She decided that healthcare was a field worth looking into since she wanted to help others and begin a career with the potential to move up in the future.  Hadja’s mother is a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and Hadja decided to follow in her footsteps with the hope of becoming a Registered Nurse down the road.  Hadja writes, “I just don’t want a job—I want a career! I am the oldest of four and putting a burden on my parents isn’t something I want to do.”  Hadja applied to Central Scholarship in hopes of earning a scholarship to help pay for CNA/GNA training.   We awarded Hadja with help from the Kenneth S. Battye Charitable Trust and Hadja completed her CNA/GNA certificate training this year.  She is pictured with her father above.

To apply for certificate training scholarships, click here and scroll down to “Career or Technology Training Students.”

Our Second 2014 College Cash Winner Is…

Posted: 06.20.14

College Cash Scholarship recipient Jyna Maeng
Jyna Maeng!  Jyna attended our Howard County College Cash session in the winter.  College Cash is a free educational program that Central Scholarship offers to students all over Maryland.  We are currently planning a fall session in October all about Student Loan Repayment.  Stay tuned and check this page for details.  Jyna is a junior at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she studies Computer Science.  Congratulations, Jyna!  Read her winning essay below:

“Welcome to College Cash 101, we are so excited that you have decided to join us today. I have a question for you all, how many of you are undergraduates?” Do I raise my hand? I do not know. The seminar moved on, but I did not. My hand laid limp on my thigh, and I wondered when I should have raised it.

I have come to struggle with these types of questions of what category I fall under. You see, I am a post-baccalaureate student, in other words, a second bachelor’s student. Seven months ago, I was on my merry way down the only path I ever knew, accepted and ready to enter a Communications Master’s program at Georgetown University, when I spotted a robot. This robot’s name was Gilbert and Gilbert was visiting my city with an annual Science Conference open to the public. There, I met people with job titles I have never heard of before, telling me how they programmed Gilbert to find his way out of a maze, which was absolutely remarkable! You see, humans can walk through a maze and when they run into a dead end, they intuitively know to turn around and try a different direction, and not return to the dead end. Robots (and computers) don’t intuitively know anything, so the amazing thing about Gilbert was it could take in new information like finding a dead end, and learn not to go there again, without someone manually moving it.

Gilbert was not born with a deductive mind, it was made for him. These people were playing God, creating life (robotic life), giving inanimate objects the ability to learn from their environment and adapt, like living things. It was eye opening and eventually; life changing. I asked what field they were working in, they replied, ‘Computer Science.’ When I was a new college student I never even heard, let alone, considered Computer Science as something I could have pursued. I had only taken one math course in my entire college career. I believed that I was not a “math person” and that it would have been too hard for me to pursue anything related to it, but truthfully, I was scared. Scared that I might fail and I was not that intelligent. So, I chose a safe major, where I was guaranteed to graduate.

Then, I found myself face to screen with Gilbert and a realization just echoed in my ribs; this is where I should be. I knew I had to get a degree in Computer Science, but everyone I happened to ask about the major either said it was ‘extremely difficult’ or actually dropped out of the major and the fear clawed its way in again. I began to wonder, ‘What if I just was not one of those naturally gifted “computer people”?’ So, what? If I am turn out to be untalented, can I not learn? Can I still not pursue it through hard work rather than through an inherit gift? At the core, I wanted to learn Computer Science and my desire puffed itself up against the looming fear.

After weeks of deliberation, I decided to forgo my Master’s program and become a post-baccalaureate student. Some of my colleagues questioned why I would make such a drastic change. They thought that becoming an undergraduate was a step backward and I would have to pay for college on my own this time.

I understand the rarity of a second bachelor student with such a drastic change in career choice, but I chose this uphill battle because I asked, ‘why bother chasing a dream that isn’t yours?’ I wanted to run after my own. And so, I sprinted. Having little math background, I taught myself Pre-calculus to test out of the college class and pushed through Calculus I and II in half a year while teaching myself Java (programming language) to get ahead of my classes and career. And while I was running, gasping for air, I realized how far I could go if I willed my legs to just keep stepping.

And when I stepped into the College Cash 101 seminar, I thought the most valuable knowledge it would give me would be a list of available scholarships in my county, but it was not knowledge at all that affected me the most, it was advice. When Angela and Jen, went over scholarship essay tips, they said to be human in our essays. Be human and advocate for yourself. I have been trying to hide that I am a second bachelor’s student in every essay, every conversation, because I felt it would somehow hurt my chances of being chosen for scholarships and grants, but now I feel I can write essays truer to my situation and dreams rather than what I think I have to become for some of these scholarship essays. I will learn how to better advocate for myself, and use my unique perspective in my essays to better my chances at future scholarships.

I will also look for scholarships particular to students pursuing a second bachelor’s or something geared towards my major. As Jen and Angela said, we should be more specific and local in our scholarship searches to increase our chances of being selected.

Jen told us that when writing an essay, you should tell a story, rather than list your accomplishments. This is my story, and this seminar helped me begin to write my future chapters the right way.