Wednesday, April 28, 1999

Scholarship program hits its 10th year

Black women guide students

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Tyler H. Shaw, 18, has the ideal support system behind him as he pursues a pre-medical degree at the University of Cincinnati.

        The Springfield Township resident is one of 70 students who have received scholarships from the Advocates for Youth Education Inc. (AYE) in the last 10 years. AYE is an organization of 27 African-American professional women.

        “It is good to have that kind of group making an investment in you,” Mr. Shaw said. “I stay in touch with them because this is the kind of support system you need.”

        Mr. Shaw is a 1998 graduate of Winton Woods High School. He was among eight students receiving the scholarship from AYE last year.

        AYE will celebrate its 10th anniversary May 15 with a luncheon. Students who will receive this year's scholarships, along with members of their families, are invited.

        Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell will be the keynote speaker.

        AYE was a vision 10 years ago of Merri Gaither Smith, who is retired as assistant to the superintendent after 30 years in the Cincinnati Public Schools system.

        “I called together two other professional women who shared the same vision,” Mrs. Smith said.

        They were Rosa Blackwell, deputy superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools and wife of Mr. Blackwell, and Myrtis Powell, vice president of student affairs at Miami University.

        “We turned a vision into reality and brought in other professional women,” Mrs. Smith said. “Each of them was doing things individually to help students, but we thought if we could do it collectively we could help more students.

        “After 10 years, we are proud of what we have been able to do for students and proud that it was African-American women who did it,” Mrs. Smith said. AYE is sup ported by membership dues.

        Miriam West, president, said AYE has given $90,000 in scholarships, including $15,000 last year, ranging from $1,500 to $3,800.

        “We only have four meetings a year,” Mr. West said. “We meet for one hour. We don't do fund-raisers or conduct dances to raise money. Each member pays a $500 membership fee in September.”

        Applications for scholarships are sent to public, parochial and private schools in January. To apply, a student must be a graduating senior and have been accepted by a four-year college or university.

        Mrs. West said students must be African-American and U.S. citizens. They must have a 2.5 grade-point average or better on a 4.0 scale. Letters of recommendation, one from a teacher and one from a counselor or principal, must accompany the application. Financial need is one consideration.


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