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New scholars program honors Cincinnati civil rights activist

(University of Cincinnati){ }
(University of Cincinnati)
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CINCINNATI (WKRC) - A group of University of Cincinnati students will soon be on their way to Tanzania as part of a brand-new scholars program that honors a Cincinnati civil rights activist.

The Marian Spencer Scholars Program was created last year. Leaders select ten high-achieving Cincinnati Public students who get full ride scholarships to UC.

That inaugural group just finished their freshman year at UC, and on Saturday they will leave for the trip of a lifetime.

Freshman year at the University of Cincinnati flew by for these Marian Spencer Scholars, which means it has already been a year since Benya Coleman was awarded the scholarship at Hughes STEM High School. The free ride to UC, moved her one step closer to being a doctor.

"Every time that times are getting low, I feel like I just have to replay that video, like, this is what I'm fighting for, this is what I'm doing it for," Coleman said.

The scholars program is named after UC grad and Cincinnati civil rights activist Marian Spencer.

Director of the program Cindy Jones said it has been an honor to watch the students grow through this program.

"This scholarship, where we have students of all ethnicities, all social-economic backgrounds, I know Mrs. Spencer would be so very proud," Jones said.

Now, the scholars will carry the Spencer legacy thousands of miles to Tanzania. Students will travel with the Village Life Outreach Project in its efforts to fight poverty in three villages.

"I'm really excited to see a whole different part of the world," said Marian Spencer Scholar Natalie Bennings.

UC Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Dr. Chris Lewis founded the nonprofit and has helped hundreds of UC students get to Tanzania to help.

"They're going to be working with our community members in Tanzania to serve them in the areas of health, water and education, but equally as important, they're going to be learning from the community members there," Dr. Lewis said.

The students will also speak with moms in the villages about prenatal and postnatal care.

"I'm excited to learn more about the community around me and different cultures, and at the same time, I'll learn more about myself," said Marian Spencer Scholar Brooke Bartholomew.

These students have been through all of the challenges of the first year of college and will now take on another life-changing experience together.

"Words cant even express how I feel about it," Coleman said.

The students and staff leave on Saturday. They have a couple plane rides, and will be in the air for 19 hours total. The group will return to Cincinnati on May 25.

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The second group of Marian Spencer Scholars has already been awarded. The scholarship is only for Cincinnati Public students. You can learn more about the program and scholarship here.

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