National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) and UNCF celebrated the success of the Achievement Capstone Program, a scholarship program that grants financial assistance to high-achieving, underrepresented college graduates at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and predominantly Black institutions (PBIs).
NMSC joined UNCF at Clark Atlanta University’s Dubois Statue Platform to commemorate the scholarship’s five-year milestone. During the celebration, NMSC President Timothy E. McGuire presented UNCF President Dr. Michael L. Lomax with an additional $2.1 million grant for the Achievement Capstone Program.
For more than 50 years, NMSC conducted the National Achievement® Scholarship Program, which recognized and honored academically talented Black American high school students. Four million Black Americans entered the program, and approximately 228,000 received program recognition. Of those honored, more than 34,000 of the most outstanding participants were chosen to receive Achievement Scholarship® awards worth about $108 million. The final group of high school students to be recognized in the program entered college in 2015. UNCF carries on the National Achievement Scholarship Program name and legacy through the UNCF Achievement Capstone Program, launched in 2016 with an initial investment of $5 million from the National Achievement Scholarship Program. The additional investment of $2.1 million is the remaining funds from the National Achievement Scholarship Program now that the obligations to the 2015 scholarship recipients have been fully met.
“UNCF is honored to continue the legacy of a program that has meant so much to Black college students who struggled to finance their higher education,” said Lomax. “I am proud of the work that UNCF has done with this program in helping ensure a college degree is not only a dream but a possibility.”
“NMSC is proud of our partnership with UNCF and their great work and stewardship to successfully carry on the name, mission, and important legacy of the National Achievement Scholarship Program which has recognized and honored so many talented Black American Scholars since the first awards were presented in 1965,” said McGuire. “We believe this further investment in the Achievement Capstone Program is proof of our great confidence in UNCF to carry on this important mission for many years to come.”
“The UNCF Achievement Capstone Program showed other grant organizations that I was capable of writing persuasive material and that I was a leader in my community,” said Alexis Carey, a UNCF Achievement Capstone recipient and third-year Ph.D. candidate currently enrolled in the cellular and molecular medicine program at Johns Hopkins University. Carey is interested in the interface between aging, chronic inflammation and overall immune function. Her research allowed her to receive several prestigious awards including the Ford Predoctoral Fellowship Alternate/Honorable Mention in 2021 and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program Honorable Mention in 2020. She plans to investigate the role that age-related changes to bone marrow play in the progression of melanoma. A 2018 graduate of Clark Atlanta University, Carey actively encourages young students through her participation as a peer mentor to basic science institute and summer internship program students.
“The UNCF Achievement Capstone Scholarship gave me the momentum to help achieve my dream of becoming an attorney and inspired me to give back to my community,” said Tiqeece Brown, a UNCF Achievement Capstone recipient and second-year law student at Campbell University’s Norman A. Wiggins School of Law. Brown provides leadership as the chief promotional officer for Campbell Law Reporter and the law student representative for the North Carolina Bar Association. He is an active member of the university’s Diversity and Student Life Committee and Student Bar Association. A 2017 graduate of Winston-Salem State University, Brown served as a teacher and football coach within Catawba County School system. Upon graduation, he has a strong desire to pursue a career in education or public interest law.
“Students like Alexis Carey and Tiqeece Brown are outstanding examples of the talent this particular scholarship empowers,” Lomax added. “And, this additional investment will allow UNCF to turn those dreams into realities for more students at HBCUs and PBIs. For that, we are extremely grateful to NMSC for entrusting us with such a prestigious program.”