UC celebrates Marian Spencer Scholars

Special induction ceremony held Sept. 9 at Nippert Pavilion West

Twenty students were recognized during a Sept. 9 induction ceremony for the Marian Spencer Scholarship program at the University of Cincinnati. The ceremony, held at Nippert Pavilion West, drew more than 100 guests.

The Marian Spencer Scholarship was first announced in fall 2021 and was made possible by an alumni donation and university investment. The scholarship is for high-achieving Cincinnati Public School graduates and includes full tuition, room and board, a service abroad trip to Tanzania and many more opportunities. 

During their first year, Spencer Scholars form a living-learning community, housed together in Marian Spencer Hall on campus. Marian Spencer, a civil rights icon, is a UC alumna who was instrumental in desegregating Cincinnati’s Coney Island as well as Cincinnati Public Schools. She went on to become the first African American woman elected to Cincinnati City Council in 1983.

The first cohort of Spencer Scholars arrived at UC in the fall 2022. The second cohort of Spencer Scholars arrived on the UC campus this fall. Both cohorts were honored during the recent induction ceremony. Some of those inductees are:

  • Djeneba Camara, Dater High School

  • Sadie Smith, Oyler High School

  • Armani Kelley, Taft Information Technology High School

  • Joshua Lerma, Walnut Hills High School

  • Amelia Tyson-Mueller, Clark Montessori High School

  • Helen Dawit, Western Hills University High School

  • Jaylan Green, Withrow High School

  • Kailei Brown, Woodward Career Technical High School

  • Jamiah Mixon, Withrow High School

  • Katelyn Cotton, Walnut Hills High School

University of Cincinnati Marian Spencer Scholarship students cohort 1 and 2 pinning ceremony Saturday September 9, 2023 at Nippert Stadium. Photo by Joseph Fuqua II

Natalie Bennings, lights a candle during an induction ceremony for Marian Spencer Scholars. Photo by Joe Fuqua II.

Other inductees include:

  • Benya Coleman, Hughes High School

  • Marcus Elliott, Oyler High School

  • Natalie Bennings, School of Creative and Performing Arts

  • Takora Arnold, Virtual High School

  • Mbathio Lo, Aiken High School

  • Jalen Tucker, Shroder High School

  • Brooke Bartholomew, Clark Montessori High School

  • Maxwell Larson, Spencer Educational Center

  • Muslim Khzir, Gilbert A. Dater High School

  • Nia McGlothin, Gamble Montessori High School

Distinguished guests at the induction ceremony included UC Provost Valerio Ferme; Jack Miner, vice provost for enrollment management; Bleuzette Marshall, vice president of equity and inclusion; and Cincinnati Vice Mayor Jan Michelle Kearney, along with Eric Kearney, president of the African-American Chamber of Commerce: Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. 

Woody Keown Jr., president and chief operating officer of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and Dot Christenson, author of the Marian Spencer biography "Keep on Fighting", attended the event as did Susan Noonan and Alice Sneider from the Cincinnatus Foundation.

Inductees were asked to pass the light of a candle from scholar to scholar, symbolizing the torchbearer's responsibility of carrying forth the ideals and values exemplified by Marian Spencer. It was a poignant reminder of the importance of collaborative and collective efforts to support these deserving students on their journey to college success.

The induction ceremony served as a testament to the commitment of the community to nurture and uplift the next generation of leaders. As the torch of education and social justice continues to burn brightly, it is clear that Marian Spencer's legacy will live on through the lives of these exceptional students.

Local media have followed the journey of Marian Spencer Scholars at UC with coverage of the inaugural class of students as well as this year's second group of honorees. The Spencer Scholars were able to make their global imprint known during a recent study abroad service learning trip in Tanzania sponored by Village Life Outreach Project.

The Cincinnati nonprofit partners with three villages in northern Tanzania’s Rorya District — Roche, Nyambogo and Burere — to implement programs to fight poverty by increasing access to clean water and healthcare and improving educational outcomes.

Learn more about their experience captured in Greetings, Grace and Gratitude.

Featured image of the Sept. 9 Marian Spencer Scholars induction ceremony. Credit/Joe Fuqua II.

Headshot of Cindy Jones

Cindy Jones

Director, Marian Spencer Scholarship Program

513 556 7825

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