WCPO-TV: Meet one of the first Marian Spencer Scholarship recipients at UC

Scholarship honors UC alum and Cincinnati civil rights activist

The recent graduate of Cincinnati’s Gilbert A. Dater High School is among the inaugural class of Marian Spencer Scholars at the University of Cincinnati. He is one of 10 students who will receive a full ride to UC, be part of a service study abroad program in Tanzania and participate in other opportunities.

Khzir shared his story with WCPO-TV for a segment about his journey from his hometown of Erbil, Iraq to Cincinnati and ultimately to UC. The segment discussed the scholarship, which will enroll 10 students in the fall 2022 and by 2023 the program will include at least one student from each of the 18 high schools in Cincinnati Public Schools.

In addition to Khzir that group of scholars includes: Takora Arnold of Virtual High School; Mbathio Lo of Aiken High School; Natalie Bennings of School of Creative and Performing Arts; Brooke Bartholomew of Clark Montessori High School; Nia McGlothin of Gamble Montessori High School; Marcus Elliott of Oyler High School; Benya Coleman of Hughes High School; Jalen Tucker of Shroder High School; and Maxwell Lawson of Spencer Center for the Gifted.

The inaugural class of Marian Spencer Scholars includes (rear left) Muslim Khzir, Maxwell Elliott, Jalen Tucker, Marcus Elliott and (front left) Benya Coleman, Nia McGlothin, Brooke Bartholomew, Natalie Bennings, Mbathio Lo and Takora Arnold

The inaugural class of Marian Spencer Scholars includes (rear left) Muslim Khzir, Maxwell Elliott, Jalen Tucker, Marcus Elliott and (front left) Benya Coleman, Nia McGlothin, Brooke Bartholomew, Natalie Bennings, Mbathio Lo and Takora Arnold. Photo provided.

The scholarship program honors Cincinnati civil rights icon and UC alumna Marian Spencer, who was instrumental in desegregating Cincinnati’s Coney Island as well as CPS. Spencer went on to become the first African American woman elected to Cincinnati City Council in 1983.

As a Black student in the late 1930s and early 1940s, she wasn't permitted to live in a dorm on UC’s campus. Today, there is a residence hall that bears her name, opened in 2018. The Marian Spencer Scholars will form a living-learning community housed together in the residence hall.

Cindy Jones, director of the Marian Spencer Scholarship program, says the scholarship is designed to be transformative in the lives of its recipients.

“The spirit of Marian Spencer is alive today with the creation of the Marian Spencer Scholarship," says Jones. "The University of Cincinnati is proud to partner with Cincinnati Public Schools to offer the Marian Spencer Scholarship Program, reserved explicitly for CPS students in the top 10% of their senior class. The inaugural cohort of Spencer Scholars represents 10 CPS high schools."

Jones explains the scholarship includes full cost of attendance, tuition, books, room and board, a study abroad service trip to Tanzania with The Village Life Outreach Project under the guidance of Dr. Chris Lewis, along with experiential learning and co-op opportunities. The scholars will also be enriched with networking and mentorship opportunities with  university leaders.

"They are the new generation of torchbearers, ready and willing to continue fighting for the things Mrs. Spencer held dear, racial and educational equality," says Jones.

Watch the WCPO segment.

Learn more about Muslim Khzir.

Featured image of Muslim Khzir taken by Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand.