Two Brooklyn Center Community School seniors won prestigious full-ride college scholarships after applying among 300 other students in the metro area.
Twelfth-graders Roland Osagiede and Pierre Lawhon became recipients of the metro-wide Act Six Scholarships, after initially joining a pool of 300 other applicants in a competition that eventually earned both students a $200,000 scholarship to local colleges. This marks the first time BCS students have won the Act Six scholarship, which is administered via the Urban Ventures Program in Minneapolis.
“They look to have students who are student leaders, who are committed in the community both now and in the future,” said BCS Get Ready Program Liaison Joe Kane. “They have around 34 students who are going to see full-need scholarships, which in many cases (equals) to a full-ride scholarship. It’s just a long process.”
Act Six offers scholarships to one of four metro-area colleges: Augsburg, North Central, Bethel University or University of Northwestern Roseville. Osagiede and Lawhon were among a handful of BCS applicants, with five of them emerging as semifinalists and four as finalists.
“They start with the long application process: four essays, two recommendations,” said Kane. “They whittled that down to semifinalists, about 150. We had five students make the semifinal round. And then they go to the finalist round. We had four students who were finalists, where they then have to do an overnight experience at the college. There were 70 or so finalists, so each college hosted 10 to 15 students, and then from that, they (announced) the winners of the scholarships.”
Osagiede accepted a scholarship to Bethel, where he hopes to major in engineering, while Lawhon is going to Augsburg in hopes of becoming an English teacher.
“In the finalist round, I think there were 34-38 different high schools in the area that sent students,” said Kane. “For us to have four finalists out of that 70? It’s a big accomplishment, and it really speaks to the students’ ability.”
The application and competition process began in October for Osagiede and Lawhon, who wrote numerous essays highlighting their scholastic and personal strengths.
“I had to write four essays,” said Osagiede. “One of them was about your relationship with God, so I talked about how my faith has grown over the years. Another one was about an obstacle you’ve overcome, so I talked about a challenge I overcame.”
Another essay revolved around how the students would give back to their communities post-college.
“I told them about what career I wanted to do,” said Osagiede. “I want to become an engineer, but after I get my degree, I want to come back to my community and give back in any way possible.”
Applications were due in November, with the semifinal rounds taking place in January. The finals took place in February, with the winners being notified later that month.
“In the beginning, I was thinking I had a good chance,” said Osagiede. “There wasn’t a lot of people applying, but then the pool was getting smaller and smaller, so the pressure was definitely on.”
Osagiede and Lawhon’s wins are a fraction of the significant amount of college scholarships earned by BCS seniors this year, with approximately $2.2 million in non-financial aid scholarships earned so far.
“This is an amazing group of students, and there are just so many amazing students that we really wanted to celebrate and inspire the younger students in the building,” said Kane. “We’ve got about $2.2 million in earned scholarships by students. That’s not financial aid through the government, or anything like that. That is what colleges have said our students have earned.”
BCS is currently setting a goal for $3 million by year’s end.
“On average, that’s $30,000 a scholarship per kid,” said Kane. “We’re really proud of the students here. They’ve put some incredible work in.”
Contact Christiaan Tarbox at [email protected]