UC surprises future Bearcats on Decision Day

The university received a record number of applications for 2022-23

Decision Day marks the moment when thousands of incoming Bearcats learn they’ve been accepted to the University of Cincinnati.

For many students, that means checking their computers, phones or mail for the news. But a select few area students received an early surprise in what’s becoming a new UC tradition.

University officials today surprised four Cincinnati-area high school seniors at their schools and homes, making them among the first to be accepted into UC in 2022.

Increasing interest in UC

Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Jack Miner explains why it’s such a great time to be a Bearcat.

“This year has really given the University of Cincinnati an opportunity to shine,” he says. “A top-ranked football program, a top-ranked co-op program, a visit from ESPN Game Day, the move to the Big 12 and the celebration of our largest private donation have all made UC a household name across the country.”

That recognition is reflected in UC’s record-breaking 25,000-plus applications this year, a 10% increase over 2021.

These applicants represent the most diverse group of students in university history, with a 33% increase in first-generation college students, a 27% increase in Black students, a 17% increase in Hispanic students and a 19% increase in international students.

Jack Miner speaking

Jack Miner | Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Welcoming students from across the country and globe

Top 10 states

  1. Ohio
  2. Indiana
  3. Kentucky
  4. Illinois
  5. Michigan
  6. Pennsylvania
  7. New Jersey
  8. Texas
  9. California
  10. New York

Top 5 countries (outside U.S.)

  1. India
  2. Vietnam
  3. United Arab Emirates
  4. Uzbekistan
  5. Brazil

More prospective students are visiting campus, too, reinforcing the idea that in-person experiences are invaluable.

“This has been an unprecedented year for interest in UC,” Miner says. Not only do we have record applications, but we have had a huge increase in campus visits. It is clear that students are really attracted to the beauty and energy of the UC campus.”

Building a new UC tradition

For the second year in a row, UC is making Decision Day surprises a hallmark experience for local students.

Miner spearheaded the initiative last year in response to COVID-19.

“So many students have missed the traditional benchmarks of high school: homecoming, prom or even in-person graduation ceremonies,” he says. ”Even when they get to experience those events, masks and social distancing are part of the memory. 

“We wanted to create a new memory, a new celebration for high school students. These surprises are not just celebrating the students we visit but an opportunity for our entire community to celebrate all high school students who are headed off to college.”

Decision Day in the news

See media coverage of the day from:

The day began early in Mount Orab, Ohio, where Miner and a crew from UC surprised student David Tincher at Western Brown High School. 

David was the very first student to receive admission to UC this year. He was accepted into UC Clermont College, which saw a near-40% rise in applications this year.

David was speechless as he entered his school lobby to find his parents, grandmother, Jack Miner, UC Clermont Dean Jeffrey Bauer, the Bearcat mascot and other UC and Western Brown representatives for the surprise. He was also awarded a $2,000 grant. 

“I was very surprised, overwhelmed and pretty nervous,” David said. 

David and family pose with Bearcat

David Tincher and his family pose with the Bearcat. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

His father Scotty Tincher said David has had his sights set on college ever since elementary school. “I’m very proud and excited for him,” he said. 

David will be the first in his family to attend college. He says he selected UC Clermont because it’s close to home and he can get the college experience on a more intimate scale before transferring to a larger university, like UC’s Uptown campus. 

David was accepted into UC Clermont’s pre-engineering program and hopes to become a mechanical or electrical engineer, something he’s been interested in since playing with Legos as a child. 

“We are thrilled to welcome you to the UC family,” Miner said.

Student smiles with Bearcat

David Tincher and the Bearcat | Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Next up, the UC welcome wagon rolled up to the Butler Tech Bioscience Center in West Chester, Ohio, to surprise Lachelle Dixon.

The youngest child and only daughter in a military family, Lachelle moved around a lot through her childhood — from Germany to Georgia — before finally settling in Ohio. Her mother Michelle Dixon says once they had the opportunity to stay in one place, Lachelle fell in love with Cincinnati — and UC.

Michelle says after one campus tour, Lachelle had her mind set on attending UC, and wanted to start at UC Blue Ash. While they have a stack of admissions letters from other colleges and universities sitting at home, Lachelle didn’t want to open them until she heard from UC.

And today, she did.

Lachelle Dixon and her family pose with Bearcat

Lachelle Dixon and her family pose with the Bearcat, Jack Miner and UC Blue Ash Dean Robin Lightner at Butler Tech. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Dozens of students and members of the Dixon family gathered in the school lobby to watch as Lachelle was awarded admission to UC Blue Ash’s pre-health sciences program and a $2,000 grant. Lachelle hopes to pursue either physical or occupational therapy and eventually get her doctorate. 

Michelle hopes her daughter follows in her footsteps — she herself is an occupational therapist. She calls Lachelle — who works, volunteers and plays volleyball — her “driven little butterfly.”

Butler Tech even offered their school swag to the Bearcat mascot, who was recently crowned as the national champion in the Division 1A Mascot Competition at the 2022 College Cheerleading and Dance National Championship.

“I will be at every game,” Lachelle assured the Bearcat.

Student smiling for a video camera

Lachelle Dixon | Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

I’m so blessed to even have this opportunity.

Marcus Elliott

Marcus Elliott will admit he didn’t get great grades before high school. But once he started at Oyler School, a Cincinnati Public School in Lower Price Hill, he made a complete turnaround. His mother Amanda Taylor describes him as resilient, self-sufficient and good with change.

This spring, he will graduate high school as valedictorian. And his star continues to rise.

Marcus was visibly shocked to find representatives from UC at his door today, as members of UC’s cheer team and Bearcat Bands filled his driveway. Not only was he admitted into UC’s College of Arts and Sciences, but he was awarded a full ride as part of the new Marian Spencer Scholars program. He immediately embraced his mother and sister, and then even UC's Miner, eliciting laughter all around.

Marcus hugs his mother

Marcus Elliott hugs his mother. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

“I’m so surprised,” Marcus said. “My mom lied to me!” Anything to ensure he was home for the surprise.

Unsure of what major to pursue, Marcus opted for exploratory studies, a popular selection for undecided students.

“The next few months will bring much excitement for Marcus Elliott and his family,” said Oyler School Principal Michael Allison. “It was a pleasure to join representatives from the University of Cincinnati to inform Marcus that he is a recipient of the Marian Spencer Scholarship. He has a bright future as his education pathway takes him to college, leading to a promising career.”

“I’m so blessed to even have this opportunity,” Marcus said.

Stunned student with hands on head

Marcus Elliott | Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

I feel so relieved that I don’t have to pay for college and I can go to UC and study what I want to.

Benya Coleman

The final surprise of the day took place just across the street from UC’s Uptown campus at CPS’ Hughes STEM High School. Student Benya Coleman joined her fellow seniors in the gym for an assembly not realizing the first item on the agenda was for her personally.

After UC musicians and cheerleaders led the class in some UC cheers and songs, Miner called Benya down from the stands to offer her admission to UC’s College of Medicine, prompting cheers to echo throughout the gym. Benya’s parents and several family members soon joined, adding to the excitement.

Benya has wanted to be an obstetrician for years, and has already had the opportunity to work in the field thanks to a work-study program between CPS and a local health system. At UC she will study medical sciences.

Benya and her family gather for a photo

Several members of Benya Coleman's family surprised her at school. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Like Marcus, Benya was also awarded a full scholarship through the Marian Spencer Scholars program.

“I feel so relieved that I don’t have to pay for college and I can go to UC and study what I want to,” she said, overcome with emotion. Benya is the first in her family to attend college.

“I just knew something big was gonna happen for her,” said her mother Terry Adams.

“Today, teachers and classmates shared in the joy of watching Benya Coleman’s surprise reaction as she was presented with the Marian Spencer Scholarship,” said Hughes STEM High School Principal Jennifer Williams. “She is so deserving of the award. The University of Cincinnati will provide assistance and support so she can pursue her dream of working in the medical field someday."

Student surprised with certificate in gym

Benya Coleman | Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

First class of Marian Spencer Scholars

Marcus Elliott and Benya Coleman are two of 10 prospective students that make up the inaugural class of Marian Spencer Scholars. The scholarship covers students’ undergraduate financial need and includes mentoring and career coaching, an international service abroad trip to Tanzania in partnership with UC-based nonprofit Village Life Outreach Project, participation in a service project to benefit CPS and more. The students will form a living-learning community, housed together in Marian Spencer Hall.

Learn more about the program.

A group of excited students in a school gym's stands

Benya Coleman's friends cheer her on in the Hughes High School gym. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

CPS Strong

UC has established an institution-wide model to engage and empower Cincinnati Public School students. By aligning programs and services to ensure readiness, create access and foster success, UC aims to achieve educational transformation and positively impact the future of the university and the city. This means significantly increasing the number of UC graduates from Cincinnati Public Schools and partnering across UC, CPS and the broader community to create a more robust, system-wide ecosystem of support for UC students from Cincinnati Public Schools.

This year saw a 14% increase in applications from CPS students.

“We take pride in being a top research school in the country with an international reputation, but at our heart, we are the hometown school,” says Miner. “We are not just a university in Cincinnati, we are the University of Cincinnati. We are of this city and that is where we get our pride and motivation.”

Those who applied by the Dec. 1 Early Action Deadline found out starting at 4 p.m. (EST) Jan. 24 if they had been offered admission. Those who applied after Dec. 1 and those who continue to apply will receive admission decisions on a rolling basis.

Featured image at top: Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Still time to apply

Opportunities for admission are still available in select Uptown programs until March 1. UC's regional campuses — UC Blue Ash College and UC Clermont College — accept applications on a rolling basis until July 1.

Apply online or get more information about undergraduate enrollment by calling 513-556-1100.