Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Luncheon honors first-generation students

The 2009-10 recipients of the Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarship were honored at a luncheon Tuesday afternoon in Smith Hall. The scholarship program gives financial aid to select Alabama students who are the first members of their immediate families to attend a college.

“To be given the opportunity for someone to say ‘I don’t know you, and I don’t really know where you come from, and I don’t really know anything about you, but I’m going to give you this opportunity, and I believe in you,’ to be told that, gives you such motivation to make it through,” said Lindsey Lowe, a freshman majoring in journalism.

This year’s UA recipients were Yi Chen, Tyler Clark, Hannah Diane Carter, Denzel Evans-Bell, Paige M. Henderson, Jeremy J. Jordan, Lindsey Rebecca Lowe, Donald Wayne Merren, Joshua Moncrief, Mark Ryan Renaud, Lauren Grace Renfroe and Amanda Nicole Robinson.

“We’re very proud of them,” said Kim Gentry, director of corporate and foundation relations. “It’s a wonderful class, very diverse.”

The scholarship is made possible by a $1 million gift from the Coca-Cola Foundation to the University’s “Our Students. Our Future.” campaign. The students will receive a $5,000 scholarship each year for their four years of undergraduate study. To remain eligible, students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average throughout their undergraduate years.

“We are both partnering to help these students, both through scholarship and through the support systems we offer while they are here. It is a combined effort. It’s a sense of pride we both have in these students,” Gentry said.

“It’s not only the money, especially with Coca-Cola. They have a tremendous support staff that they put around us here. If we need anything, they have somebody here to take care of that, whatever we need,” said Ellis Ponder, a senior majoring in business management and a 2006 recipient of the scholarship.

The Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarship Program has awarded more than $19 million to over 1,000 students on nearly 400 campuses across the nation since 1993.

“At the Coca-Cola Company, we believe education is the single greatest force enabling people worldwide to improve their lives,” said Ingrid Saunders Jones, chairperson for the Coca-Cola Foundation, in a written statement.

For some students, this scholarship has drastically changed their collegiate plans. The financial aid has enabled them to attend a four-year university and receive a better education than they might have otherwise.

“Without this I wouldn’t be standing here right now. I would be at a smaller, two-year university close to home, definitely wouldn’t have the opportunities I have being down here,” said Tyler Clark, a freshman majoring in aerospace engineering.

Because of the scholarship, these students are becoming much more involved from the beginning of their college career. They participated in Alabama Action the summer before their freshman year and have received many internships and research opportunities through the connections they have made with this scholarship.

“I had lunch with the dean of my college and with the head of journalism, and now she’s my mentor in a research project,” Lowe said.

More to Discover