Education is the ultimate right of every child regardless of which race, religion or nation he or she belongs to. To promote this ideal and get as many children to get educated, various incentives are given to people who can’t afford it. The early education is free for most people but it is the higher education that costs a lot and often discourages students to receive it. In order to overcome this situation, governments and private sectors in several nations offer incentives called scholarships to encourage higher education among the gifted students eager to explore world of knowledge.
America is the hub of such scholarly endeavors relentlessly motivating students to be part of this incredible journey. However, there was once a time in America when African Americans were banned from receiving formal education and their small but useful inventions were seized by their owners and wrongfully patented to their name. Civil Rights Movement paved way for African Americans to have same rights as white to seek formal education. Despite the softening of laws, African Americans found it hard to make it to a decent college for financial reasons.
The first African American man to earn college degree was Alexander Lucius Twilight. He graduated from Middlebury College in 1823. In 1862, the first black woman to receive Bachelors in Arts from Oberlin College was Mary Jane Patterson. In the following years a few African American scholars were granted fellowship from American educational institutes. In 1876, Edward Alexander Bouchet became the first African-American to earn scholarship that garnered him a doctorate degree from the prestigious Yale College after submitting a dissertation, in physics. He was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Society for his outstanding academic performance. Among black women, Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander was the first woman who earned a Ph.D from University of Pennsylvania, 1912. Then the same year Georgiana Simpson received a Ph.D in German Philology from University of Chicago. Howard University conferred a doctoral degree upon Eva Beatrice Dykes in the following years. Thus began a new era of equal rights of education. Henceforth, the black students were given the financial support to further their educational endeavors.
Moreover, these scholarships are not just offered to academically gifted students but also to those black students who proved their worth in the playground. Jerry LeVias is said to have been the first African American to be offered a scholarship based on his athletic prowess. He was offered hundreds of scholarships from different colleges but none from traditionally African American college. Hence, he took up Southern Methodist University’s football scholarship.
It is surveyed that estimated $50 billion dollars are invested in scholarship each year for the students coming from multifarious ethnic backgrounds. African American students along with other minorities receive a huge number of these scholarships. It is due to the fact that black students are still in a great need of financial assistance. Furthermore the education gap between whites and blacks is still as vast as before. So as to tackle this situations not only government but numerous non-profit organization and major corporations came forward to ease the financial burden on African American students issuing grants and fellowships.
A majority of these programs focus on fulfilling the academic needs of black students coming from blue-collar families, incapable of affording college tuition fees. Whereas, there are other programs invested in recognizing the gifted students, athletes, or students vigorously involved in community service and offer them grants not taking into account their financial background. In addition to that, the scholarships given to these black students can be renewed for several years as long as they met the required criteria. In fact, the grant offered to them can be used for several academic purposes besides the tuition fees, such as renting a room in a hostel, books, travel etc.
The scholarships for African Americans are targeted toward students with a keen interest in a particular field of knowledge. Numerous websites are setup to assist these individuals seeking to enroll themselves at college. Cappex is one such domain that offers help to students. For instance, a black student interested in majoring in a chemistry related field, the student will be pointed toward a college offering a scholarship in that field, like the American Chemical Society Minority Scholarship. They offer a twenty-five hundred dollar scholarship after reviewing applicant’s academic record and excellence. Other such scholarships for individuals having interest in variety of fields such as teaching, technical and biblical studies can avail Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Scholarship, Xerox Technical Minority Scholarship, and the Star Supporter Scholarship, respectively.
It is observed that through centuries women’s right to education or equal salary has taken a backseat, whereas, the men are appointed and elected to all the major positions in a society. The same goes for the education of women of color who were previously deprived of their basic right. The gap between white female students and blacks is still huge and consequently even in the 21st century only 2% of all academia jobs are held by African-American females. Despite the fact that it is the black women who earned these scholarships on the basis of their academic excellence out-performed men, yet they are unable to accomplish better jobs as their male counterparts.
Scholarships may reduce the financial burden and ensure monumental educational possibilities but it still fails to guarantee high-paying career for them. Therefore, the responsibility rests upon the shoulders of white women to also assist black women in their career without prejudice. There are a number of organizations dedicated to the cause of offering scholarship to black women. The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) is a renowned organization which facilitates black students’ in their education through various scholarship, internship and fellowship programs. The National Black Nurses Associations is another well-known non-profit organization devoted to help African American in nursing education, providing grants and annual scholarships. One other group known for its scholarship programs based on economic disadvantages of black students is Black Women in Sisterhood for Action (BISA).