New minority scholarship proposed by student

Olivia Parker, 20, Crestriver FL, created a scholarship for first generation students. As a first generation student herself, Parker has always felt a passion for first generation college students. “My goal is to impact more and more students each year,” she said.

Griffin Fletcher

Crystal River, Florida, junior Olivia Parker has been working to create an endowment scholarship for incoming first generation college students since the end of last semester. As of last Wednesday, Jan. 24, the endowment is in progress, seeking donors and will hopefully take effect by the fall semester.

The scholarship is targeted at low-income students who have academic potential, yet may lack proper resources for guidance and functions in accordance with a two-part system.

In order to provide the recipients with guidance, all recipients will be take part in an extensive two-part mentorship.

For the first part, they will be offered any tips about college and succeeding as a college student that they might not have had access to prior. This mentorship will operate according to a student’s individual needs and is hoped to go beyond weekly counseling.

“I would have loved to have a mentor,” Parker said, speaking on her experience as a first generation college student. “The hardest part was not having a great support system.”

Parker said some of the most difficult aspects of being a first generation student are not academics, but are based in inexperienced guidance or a lack thereof. Parker mentioned not knowing how to write a professional email or how to study for a college exam as examples of how a first generation student might struggle.

The scholarship’s second part is a requirement to join an on-campus club or organization, to ensure each student is able to expand as a student and person.

Parker said joining clubs helped her overcome whatever disadvantages being a first generation student presents. As a member of WKU’s Psychological Science and Diversity Board, Parker said she first found support for her idea to aid first generation college students in a way she was not privileged to.

Alongside associate professor of Psychological Sciences Aaron Wichman, who helps lead the Psychological Science and Diversity Board and will serve as the primary mentor for the scholarship’s mentorship feature, Parker was able to flesh out this idea and turn it into an endowment scholarship through the College Heights Foundation. The College Heights Foundation will match funds raised for the scholarship up to $5,000.

This means the first $5,000 the endowment receives will turn into $10,000, the endowment’s startup requirement.

With $10,000, the endowment will be able to grant a single student $500 worth of financial aid for their second semester of classes, given they maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.8 after their first semester.

Though the endowment aspires to eventually back numerous students, specifically once funds reach over $20,000, its purpose is not predominantly monetary, Parker said.

Wichman said the mentoring aspect of the endowment is what matters most, and what makes the endowment so special.

“To help normal people, to help them access the opportunity to get an education, it takes more than money,” Wichman said.

Features reporter Griffin Fletcher can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected].