Barack Obama Scholars Program Launches at Occidental College
Up to 20 students per year at Occidental may qualify.
By Kathryn Knight Randolph
October 06, 2017
Barack Obama may no longer be President of the United States, but his legacy lives on through charitable programs, contributions and speaking engagements. And now, one of his alma maters is continuing the legacy through the Barack Obama Scholars Program.
For the first two years of his college career, Obama attended Occidental College, a small, liberal arts school in Los Angeles. It was there that his passion for politics was cultivated. He states, “Oxy [Occidental College] started giving me a sense of what a purposeful life might look like.”
He recounts on the Barack Obama Scholars Program website that Occidental is not only where his passion for politics and social causes were founded but also where he gave his first political speech. The anti-apartheid movement in South Africa was at its height during his time as a student there, and Obama gave a speech encouraging the Board of Trustees to remove its investments from that country.
The Barack Obama Scholars Program is a pretty comprehensive scholarship package. Recipients will not only receive tuition, room and board but will also be provided books, and student and travel expenses. Recipients can study any major at Occidental and in addition to the unique offerings during the school year, participants can take advantage of summer travel, internships and mentored research projects.
According to The New York Times, the fund for the Obama Scholars Program will cover the $70,000 cost to attend each year for 20 students. Preference will be given to applicants that are veterans, community college transfers and first generation college students. Currently, the endowment has enough funds to provide full ride scholarships to two students.
In order to raise more funds, the former President of Occidental, Jonathan Veitch, is traveling the world to raise money for the endowment. He told The New York Times, “There are not many liberal arts colleges that educate a president. We are very proud of the fact and very proud of him. We thought this would be a great way to honor him and have our students emulate the values he represents.”
As of now, Obama is not a financial contributor but Veitch hopes that changes. He states in an interview with The New York Times, “I am going all over the world asking people for money. Why wouldn’t I ask him?”
There is not a detailed application process at this point; rather, students are recruited to the program. Students interested in the Barack Obama Scholars Program should inquire with the college directly.
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