UMass Boston awards scholarships to city students
9 O’Bryant High seniors chosen
Jeremy Wong, a senior at John D. O’Bryant High School, had never been in trouble on campus, but when the headmaster told him to show up at noon at the school’s state-of-the-art tech room, Wong assumed he was in hot water.
“When I walked in the room I saw some familiar faces, and then I saw it was an announcement for Boston city scholarships,’’ said Wong, 18, of Brighton, who carries a 3.4 grade-point average and wants to study biology in college. “It was totally unexpected.’’
Mayor Thomas M. Menino and J. Keith Motley, chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Boston, were also in the room, along with other city officials and about a dozen journalists. Nine students, all of whom have been accepted to the university, were aglow as they were called one by one to the lectern, handed blue UMass Boston sweatshirts, and told they were the first recipients of the $1,000-a-year scholarships.
The $2 million scholarship program has been in the works since 1999 and is expected to benefit about 1,000 Boston public school students over 15 years. The city’s Water and Sewage Commission recently gave the university about 9 acres of land at Harbor Point, next to the campus, that had been used as a pumping station decades ago. In exchange, the university set up the scholarship program.
Fees comprise most of the cost of attending UMass Boston. Annual in-state tuition is $1,714, but annual fees are about $9,713, according to the bursar’s office.
The scholarship was appreciated by the students, who smiled, clapped, and hugged each other. The nine students are all trying to patch together family savings, financial aid, and other scholarships to fund their education.
“Money is money, and it’s great to get what you can get,’’ said Wong, undecided whether he will attend UMass Boston.
The UMass Boston scholarship is open only to Boston public school students, but does not prohibit students from receiving any other scholarship offer.
Victoria Tanis, who has a 3.3 grade point average and plans to study medicine in college, is also waiting for other schools to respond to her admissions applications, but UMass Boston is one of her top choices.
“This was a really nice surprise for me, too; it felt great when they called me out,’’ said Tanis, 17, of Hyde Park. She is working with a program that helps her apply for scholarships and has also filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Menino, who graduated from UMass Boston with a degree in community planning, said he understands, as a parent of a daughter who also attended the university, “the burden of funding a college education.’’
The mayor also extolled the virtues of the school, saying: “If I hadn’t graduated from the University of Massachusetts, I wouldn’t have been mayor of this city. There are more Harvard professors over there than at Harvard.’’
More students across the city will be named recipients. The other O’Bryant students awarded the scholarship are Kellyann Leong, Kathy Nguyen, Manyu Ma, Ngoc Nguyen, Felixaura Pena Reynoso, Linh Truong, and Venessa Hill.
Wong was the only male among the group of nine recipients. Carol R. Johnson, superintendent of Boston public schools, said efforts are ongoing to focus on the academic achievements of male students in the city’s public school system.
‘We continue to be concerned about the graduation rates and the dropout rates, which disproportionately impact black and Latino young men,’’ she said after the event.
“Our staff has certainly been looking at the data and trying to come forward with some recommendations about how we can intervene.’’