Cuts to Scholars Program Affect Local Genius
The only Black Male in Philadelphia to receive two of Temple’s most prestigious awards responds to the $10 million cut to the Ronald E. McNair Scholar program.
By Christopher “Flood the Drummer”® Norris
8.12.13: Philadelphia– (Education/Politics): In September of 2012 the Department of Education made $10 million cuts to the Ronald E. McNair Scholars program, which means “fewer scholars of color,” says Dr. Renee Moreno, Executive Director.
Serving more than 200 McNair programs nationwide, the one of three TRIO programs funded by the DOE was designed to help students who are interested in pursuing graduate studies with the goal of obtaining a Ph.D.
“It is designed for low-income, first generation college students and underrepresented racial/ethnic minorities in graduate education,” said Renee Moreno, program director and Chicano/a Studies professor, in an interview the DAILY SUNDIAL.
One local Millennial was personally affected by the cuts and says he felt like his heart was ripped from his chest when he heard the news.
“I felt betrayed. Me and my friends – the only other two mentally gifted black males in the Temple University’s McNair scholar program – were confused; and still are honestly. We were young and in our first year; it was cohort of eleven; the first I’d ever been around other guys like me,” says award-winning scholar Juwan Z. Bennett, 20.
The co-author of “Being Black in Philly” – an Op-Ed response to Philadelphia Magazine’s April Issue “Being White in Philly” – won’t go as far to say it was a racist decision but states it was racially insensitive, adding “actions don’t just speak louder than words, they make words irrelevant.”
“The program provided me with free financial literacy. Renowned thought leaders would talk to us about a variety of topics. The things that the privileged were learning, we were also learning; it was helping to narrow the information and opportunity gap,” says Bennett.
The only black male in Philadelphia to receive two of Temple’s most prestigious award – the Diamond Award and the Criminal Justice Facility Award – Bennett now says he feels somewhat isolated because he no longer gets to see to interact with his intellectual peers.
Bennett is optimistic, surprisingly, as he says while he’ll never be able to recreate the magic he experienced in the program, he’s looking forward to using what he learned to create a smaller scaled model that will aid other young black males who aim towards achieving a Ph.D.
“I wasn’t expecting to be a leader; I stumbled upon leadership qualities while in the program. I learned that the more knowledge I’m equipped with, the more I have the responsibility to share it. I want to see future sociologist like nineteen (19) year-old BMe Leadership Award Winner Rashuan Williams go as far as he can and if I can assist then I will,” says Bennett, who joined Williams in the front row at the constitution center back in March during the panel discussion “Can We Talk About Race?”
Bennett is a classically trained musician who performed for President Barack Obama in 2011. Serious about his scholarship and being nationally published, the musical millennial is now making strategic relationship with publishing firms around the country, assuring that he understands the publishing business and has a chance to get a “one up” on the competition.
“Many academics – me included – live in the Ivy Tower. Having a relationship with publishing companies and news organizations will give me chance to learn the business and be published across the globe before age twenty-one (21). Techbook Online Corporation in particular keeps me grounded on the issues and allows me to understand issues simplistically; being connected with people who have eyes and ears on the streets help me deliver the issue in a relatable way to academics and policy makers, the relationship and dynamic is freaking amazing!”
Bennett – who visited Yale recently for a conversation with the foremost thought leader on race, Dr. Elijah Anderson – is now studying a book by William Julius Wilson called When Work Disappears: The World of the new Urban Poor, a sociology standard he’s reading for his research on “Understanding Black Church Culture and the Black Middle Class.
What’a good story with a happy ending? I’m proud to announce Bennett will officially bring his youth, energy and scholarship to the Techbook Online family. Bennett will become a frequently contributor for B.R.O. Talk, covering issues at the intersection of Activism and Academia.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
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