Nurturing leadership and promoting activism

UC Marian Spencer Scholars visit the nation’s capital

Marian Spencer (‘42) left a legacy of civic engagement that lives on in students at the University of Cincinnati.

She played an instrumental role in desegregating Cincinnati’s Coney Island as well as Cincinnati Public Schools. A former UC Board of Trustee member, Spencer was the first African American woman elected to Cincinnati City Council in 1983 and the first female president of the Cincinnati chapter of the NAACP (1983-85).

Spencer knew the power of being a good global citizen and making her voice known. At UC, we are continuing her work by teaching students who are participants of the Marian Spencer Scholarship program the importance of being active in their community.

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. We also make sure our students can see firsthand how local government operates. That starts with trips to city hall to attend Cincinnati city hearings and to meet with city leaders, including the vice mayor, mayor, police chief and economic officials. 

During Spring Break, eleven Spencer Scholars made a week-long trip to Washington, DC, after receiving an invitation from the U.S. Rep. Greg Landsman, D-Ohio. This trip was supported financially by UC Admissions. We were joined by Mark Kylander, assistant director of governmental relations at UC. 

Spencer Scholars participating included Benya Coleman, Marcus Elliott, Natalie Bennings, Takora Arnold, Mbathio Lo, Jalen Tucker, Brooke Bartholomew, Maxwell Larson, Muslim Khzir, Nia McGlothin and Helen Dawit.

Eleven students part of the Marian Spencer Scholarship program stand in front of the Lincoln Monument in DC

Eleven students part of the Marian Spencer Scholarship program shown at the Lincoln Monument in Washington DC. Photo provided.

Khzir says the personal meeting with Landsman left an impression.

 “As he spoke to our group, I noticed his genuine concern for marginalized and underprivileged communities,” says Khriz. “His words resonated with me deeply, and listening to him, I couldn't help but feel that his vision aligned closely with the values and goals embodied by Marian Spencer, whose legacy we honor through the scholarship bearing her name.”

“This trip reinforced my belief in the importance of fighting towards justice and reminded me of my responsibility to contribute towards building a better world following Marian Spencer's legacy,” Khriz continued.

The Spencer Scholars also made visits to the offices of the U.S. Senator J.D. Vance and U.S. Reps. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, and Shontel Brown, D-Ohio. The scholars also explored iconic landmarks across the nation’s capital, including the U.S. Supreme Court, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Library of Congress, and the Lincoln Memorial. 

Our goal is to nurture leadership and spark activism, two traits that embodied everything that Marian Spencer stood for during his life. Our students must be politically aware in order to be citizens for change who participate fully in a local, national and global community.

Support for our Spencer Scholars also comes from two graduate assistants for the program, Donae Carter and Murphy Combs. Carter is a doctoral student in Occupational Therapy in the UC College of Allied Health Sciences. Combs is a master’s student at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music studying Viola Performance. 

Combs is also completing an undergraduate degree in marketing at the Carl H. Lindner College of Business. She used Spring Break to study abroad in Bogota, Colombia for a faculty-led Social Entrepreneurship class. Combs collaborated with the students of Pontificia Universidad Javeriana.

Learn more about our Marian Spencer Scholars online.

Top image of Marian Spencer Scholars Nia McGlothin, Benya Coleman, Helen Dawit, Muslim Khzir, Natalie Bennings,Brooke Bartholomew, Takora Arnold, Mbathio Lo, Marcus Elliott, Jalen Tucker and Maxwell Larson featured in Washington DC.  Photo provided.

Headshot of Cindy Jones

Cindy Jones

Director of the Marian Spencer Scholarship Program, Enrollment Management's CPS Strong

513 556 7825

Cindy Jones, director of the Marian Spencer Scholarship Program, accompanied her students on civic engagement trips to Cincinnati City Hall and Washington DC and a service learning stint in Tanzania. Her image in the Serengeti National Park.

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