Surprise Scholarships Delivered to 42 High Schools

UMKC, KC Scholars partner on $20 million in new scholarships
Chancellor Agrawal and scholarship recipient Nakyiah Hopkins

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 Paseo High School seniors Nakyiah Hopkins and Diamond Sparks were called to a meeting at Manual Career Tech Center, where they are studying emergency medicine. They thought they were meeting with the principal.

But no. Surprise! Each won a $50,000 scholarship to the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Both of their faces went from big eyes to smiles to tears.

“Wow, I’m so happy, so happy,” Hopkins said, wiping her eyes. She wants to become a physician, and had already applied to UMKC. “African-American doctors…there aren’t many of us. This is such awesome news.”

“$50,000 – I can really go to college,” said Sparks, who wants to be a nurse.

“Congratulations, I’m so excited for you both! What a wonderful way to start the day,” said UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal, Ph. D, who was there to deliver these life-changers along with Beth Tankersley-Bankhead, president and CEO of KC Scholars.

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Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal hugs Diamond Sparks, a senior at Paseo High School who wants to be a nurse.

 UMKC and KC Scholars are expanding their existing partnership to create college opportunities for an additional 400 low- to modest-income students from the Greater Kansas City metropolitan area over the next nine years.

Agrawal announced the expanded scholarship program during his State of the University address on campus Nov. 8. UMKC and KC Scholars are each contributing $10 million, for a total commitment of $20 million.

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Nicholas Berns-Hoyt and Joselyn Aldaco Cortes, seniors at Shawnee Mission West High School, were surprised with scholarships. “I can’t stop smiling,” said Berns-Hoyt, who wants to study civil engineering “I didn’t know whether college was a possibility,” said Aldaco Cortes, who is interested in studying art history.

KC Scholars, launched in 2016, currently awards approximately 500 college scholarships annually for students from the KC metro area to attend one of 17 partner colleges and universities in Missouri and Kansas, including UMKC. There are 46 recipients of KC Scholars grants currently enrolled at UMKC. The new funding will support 400 additional UMKC scholarships over the next nine years, each worth $10,000 per year.

“We are taking our partnership with the KC Scholars organization to a whole new level,” Agrawal said during the address. “KC Scholars provides financial aid and other forms of support to low- and modest-income families in the Greater Kansas City metropolitan area so that young people can attend college. Unfortunately, there are far more students who qualify for this assistance than KC Scholars has the resources to serve. So I am proud to say that UMKC is stepping up to meet that challenge. As the university that was created to serve this community, this is our role and our responsibility.”

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“This is so cool!” said Harrison Breshears, a senior at Lee’s Summit West High School, who wants to major in graphic design.

The UMKC commitment is the first scholarship match program to be offered by any of the four University of Missouri System universities under a new program announced by UM System President Mun Choi on Sept. 14 in his “Excellence Through Innovation: A New University of Missouri System” address. Choi said the UM System would invest $100 million in new scholarship programs, including $75 million for Promise and Opportunity Scholarships available to students based on need. The scholarship investment is a major component of $260 million in total investments by UM System for strategic priorities over the next five years.

“In its first two award cycles, KC Scholars had 1,900 eligible 11th-grade applicants that went unfunded because we simply did not have enough scholarship dollars,” said Jan Kreamer, chair of the KC Scholars board of directors. “We are grateful to UMKC for providing a life-changing opportunity to attend college for 400 additional students with this gift.”

Published: Nov 9, 2018

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