Bearcat dreams come true on Decision Day

UC officials surprise first wave of accepted students amid record-breaking application year

It's Decision Day, and the newest Bearcats are learning they’ve been accepted into the University of Cincinnati.

It’s a good time to check those mailboxes, phones and computers for an admissions notice.

High school student Anna Horgan with Bearcat mascot

Anna Horgan is the very first student this year to get her acceptance letter from UC. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

For many like Anna Horgan, a senior at Cincinnati-area Seton High School, it was a dream come true. She’s wanted to become a Bearcat since seventh grade.

And she got her wish and an extra surprise when a UC team — admissions officials,  the Bearcat mascot and members of the cheer and dance teams — visited her school to celebrate Horgan’s admission with her parents, teachers and classmates. She was awarded a $2,000 grant and offered a gift package full of UC swag. 

Horgan was the first Bearcat offered admission this year.

“It is really nice seeing all the support,” she said. “I’m very excited and a little overwhelmed.”

Horgan is a member of the National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society and the National Art Honor Society and is a senior leader on the Seton Varsity Dance Team. 

She plans to study communication design in UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning.

“The DAAP program at UC has always been at the top of her list,” said Tim Horgan, Anna’s father and 2014 UC alum. “She was looking at the top programs in the country for art and design.” DAAP Dean Timothy Jachna was on site for the surprise.

“I appreciate UC reaching out and acknowledging her hard work,” said Jen Horgan, Anna’s mother. “I am sure she will excel.”

Cincinnati surprises continue

University officials also surprised students at Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) with news of their acceptance:

Officials at UC regional colleges UC Blue Ash and UC Clermont also offered pleasant surprises for area students on Decision Day. 

Follow media coverage from the day

Media from across Cincinnati covered the day’s events:

Read more.

Why choose UC?

“Decision Day is one of the most exciting days of the year,” explains Jack Miner, vice provost for enrollment management at UC. “We are literally making dreams come true. Please pay attention to these students, Cincinnati. These will be our teachers, entrepreneurs, doctors, nurses, engineers, artists and community leaders for years to come.”

Bearcat mascot holds balloons in front of shuttle bus

Roll out the welcome wagon! UC officials and students traveled to area high schools to surprise students on Decision Day. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

So far UC has received 32,000 applications for all of its campuses — a 22% increase over last year.

About 56% of those applications are from women and 44% from men. The university has seen a 43% increase in applications from Black students, a 38% increase from Latinx students and a 38% increase from first-generation students.

Miner says applications from CPS students have jumped by 28%. The Cincinnati Pride Grant has been instrumental in providing financial assistance to CPS students who are eligible for the federal Pell grant.

“We are on track to have yet another year of record enrollment and our largest, most diverse, and academically strongest freshman class in UC’s history,” says Miner.

UC has been in the spotlight in recent years, giving families near and far a reason to consider the benefits of becoming a Bearcat. UC athletics and a move to the Big 12 are a draw for some, while others are attracted to a top-ranked co-op program.

Niche, a college ranking and review service, ranked UC No. 45 among the top public universities in the country and gave UC the top spot in the best college locations in Ohio category. U.S. News & World Report named UC among the most innovative national universities in 2022.

This is life-changing.

Helen Dawit Marian Spencer Scholarship recipient

Meet UC's newest Marian Spencer Scholars

Four students surprised today were awarded the Marian Spencer Scholarship. First announced in 2021, the scholarship covers undergraduate tuition, housing, service-learning opportunities and much more for high-achieving CPS students.

Read about last year’s inaugural class of Marian Spencer Scholars.

Dawit couldn't hold back the tears as the UC crew surprised her at school with not only news of admission, but the Spencer scholarship.

“This is life-changing,” said an emotional Dawit. “I didn't have the easiest time in high school. My family really pushed me.”

“Helen is dedicating her life to changing the world,” said Miner. “She is a perfect example of Marian Spencer.”

Helen Dawit cheers with UC officials in background

Emotions ran high as Helen Dawit was surprised at Western Hills University High School. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

Dawit is passionate about social justice and plans to study political science and calls Spencer one of her role models.

Despite working more than 30 hours a week, she still has a strong commitment to service. She volunteers to serve food at local churches and pantries and has helped organize a blood drive. Dawit is also a member of the Western Hills University High School safety team, which advocates for student mental health and emotional intelligence.

“Helen stands up for what is right,” said her older sister, Hemen Aklilu. “It doesn’t have to be a popular opinion but as long as she believes it is ethical, moral and something worth fighting for, it doesn’t matter if she is by herself or with others.”

Dawit has been admitted into the Bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Studies: Law and Society major offered through the UC College of Arts and Sciences.

UC surprises Jaylen Green and Jamiah Mixon with their acceptance letters and Marian Spencer Scholarships on Decision Day.

Jack Miner with Jaylen Green right before he learns the news. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

Green takes his desire to help in the community seriously by volunteering in local food drives and fundraisers for charitable causes. At Withrow University High School, he works as a peer tutor and is an advocate for promoting healthy bodies and minds for students.

“This is a young person who will go far in life because he has what it takes: heart, motivation and intelligence,” said Monica Magliocco, guidance counselor at Withrow. “I have no doubt he will find success at the postsecondary education level.”

Green has been admitted into the first-year engineering program in the UC College of Engineering and Applied Science.

John Weidner, CEAS dean, was on hand to congratulate and welcome Green to UC as were members of UC Bearcat Bands and UC dance and cheer teams.

UC surprises Jaylen Green and Jamiah Mixon with their acceptance letters and Marian Spencer Scholarships on Decision Day.

Mixon was all smiles once she saw the celebration was for her. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

Mixon is captain of the varsity volleyball team at Withrow and uses her leadership skills to organize tutorials and fundraisers for her team. She has been part of the Young Scholars Program at CPS and is a student ambassador. She works 25-30 hours weekly at a big-box store, but still found time to volunteer at UC Medical Center during the summer.

Mixon is “wise beyond her years,” said her grandmother, Darlene Tyler. “She is amazing. She has this drive and determination that is rare in her age group.”

Mixon has been admitted into the Carl H. Lindner College of Business. Marianne W. Lewis, PhD, dean of the College of Business, was on hand to welcome her to UC.

Both Green and Mixon were surprised by their awards and all the hoopla in Withrow’s gymnasium. School officials used a ruse to keep them in the dark.

“I honestly didn’t know,” said Mixon, about the scholarship. When she and Green were called to the counselor’s office, they thought they were in trouble. "I was so confused and I didn’t know what was going on. I got down here and everybody started jumping, applauding and hugging me and saying, 'congratulations,'" Mixon said.

When she realized what was really going on, she was thrilled by the day’s events, to say the least. 

UC surprises Jaylen Green and Jamiah Mixon with their acceptance letters and Marian Spencer Scholarships on Decision Day.

Mixon hugs her grandmother, who surprised her at school. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

UC surprises Kailei Brown with her acceptance letter and Marian Spencer Scholarship on Decision Day.

The Bearcat escorted Brown into the gym for the surprise. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

Brown started her own business doing nails at the age of 14 and it has flourished ever since, so it’s no surprise her team won first place in the Young Entrepreneurs of Color competition. She also participates in programs sponsored by CPS’ Girls to Women Leadership Collaborative. 

Her mother, Tanique Smith Brown, said her daughter has an interest in business and fashion, but also being an advocate for others. 

“She can do whatever she puts her mind to,” Smith Brown said. “She’s very compassionate to others. She has a heart for people. She was raised in church so a lot of her foundation and what she pulls on is that, and I am so proud of her for that. She allows God to let her light shine through to be a blessing to others.”

Brown has been admitted to the exploratory studies program offered through the UC College of Arts and Sciences. She said UC was attractive because it was close to home and her older sister, Aryian Brown, is studying public relations at the university.

Aryian along with her grandparents and parents were on hand to congratulate Kailei.

“I have a support system to assist me on my journey and I have individuals to network with at UC,” said Brown. “I haven’t figured everything out, but I am hoping going to UC will help me figure out my next path.”

UC surprises Jaylen Green and Jamiah Mixon with their acceptance letters and Marian Spencer Scholarships on Decision Day.

Families, friends and reporters were on hand to be part of the celebration. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

Anna Horgan and parents post with Bearcat mascot

Horgan's parents — and the Bearcat — surprised her at school to celebrate. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

UC surprises Jaylen Green and Jamiah Mixon with their acceptance letters and Marian Spencer Scholarships on Decision Day.

Green is shocked by the exciting news. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

UC surprises Kailei Brown with her acceptance letter and Marian Spencer Scholarship on Decision Day.

Kailei Brown is excited to learn she received a Marian Spencer Scholarship. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

Regional Decision Day surprises

Officials from UC Blue Ash College and UC Clermont College also hosted Decision Day surprises for area students:

  • Sophia Clark, West Clermont High School
  • Kristen Lammrish, Batavia High School
  • Brooke Hewitt, Sycamore High School
  • Ava Hartmann, William Mason High School


Featured image at top: UC officials surprise Helen Dawit at Western Hills University High School. All photos/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

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