The Beat the Odds® Scholarships will be not be made to new scholars in 2021. However, we are exploring ways to make scholarships and recognize extraordinary high school seniors throughout Ohio in 2022.
More About the Beat the Odds Scholarship
CDF-Ohio, through a rigorous selection process, presents five high school seniors with the Beat the Odds Scholarship. These are young people who are not only overcoming obstacles but beating the odds to demonstrate leadership both inside and outside the classroom. Beat the Odds honorees receive a $5,000 college scholarship, a laptop computer, and an invitation to join CDF’s youth leadership development programs.
The Beat the Odds events help raise awareness about the challenges facing Ohio’s young people and the need for continued investment and advocacy. In scholarship years, the BTO Ceremony recognizes and honors the five high school seniors who have been selected to receive the BTO scholarship. In alternating years, the BTO event recognizes the accomplishments of Beat the Odds program alumni, provides for vital ongoing support and resources our BTO scholars need while in college, supports CDF-Ohio’s work to improve the odds for all children, and informs of the ongoing challenges our young people face as they advance toward adulthood.
Written by Yolanda Zepeda, Assistant Vice Provost, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, The Ohio State University, CDF-Ohio State Advisory Board Member
I believe in the power of education to change lives. Thus, I am inspired whenever I have an opportunity to bear witness to a new generation embarking on their college journey.
I recently attended a program honoring talented Ohio youth whose hard work and academic achievements have set them on course to college success. Like many of their peers across the state, our honorees share the traditional hopes and aspirations of the American Dream. Like many of their peers, our honorees excel in their studies and engage in extracurricular activities at school and in their communities. Like many of their peers, our honorees model the enthusiasm and high spirits of ambitious youth ready to embrace their futures.
Had this been an ordinary event, I would have congratulated the honorees and departed content in the promise of a new generation in training. This celebration, however, was no ordinary event, nor were the honorees in any way ordinary.
The celebration was the Children’s Defense Fund of Ohio Beat the Odds Scholarship program. This program honors outstanding high school students who have overcome tremendous adversity, demonstrated academic commitment and have given back to their communities. The five CDF-Ohio Beat the Odds scholars honored this year have demonstrated extraordinary resilience, with a strength of character and resolve to succeed in spite of whatever challenges life has presented to them. They have outstanding academic credentials and impressive records of achievement. Yet, what impresses me most is that despite the obstacles set before them, these young scholars not only persevere, they each recognize gift of talent that they possess and generously and confidently share their gifts to improve the lives of others around them.
Pictured from left to right: Alfreda Koroma, Nul Rai, Tyrek Mitchell, and Asia McKenzie
For example, Alfreda Koroma has been working to bring opportunity to youth in her homeland of Sierra Leone, where civil war and an Ebola outbreak have disrupted the lives of so many. Alfreda raised money for school supplies and fees supporting 400 children in four schools.
Asia McKenzie can cite statistics describing the destructive force of poverty and homelessness, and then she confidently denies its power over her future. She is deeply committed to alleviating poverty in her own life and in the lives of others and has volunteered in multiple service roles in her Athens county community.
When he arrived in the US, Nul Rai left behind the harsh living conditions of a refugee camp in Nepal, but he carried with him Nepali culture and language skills. Driven by a passion to help others, he soon put those skills to work as a volunteer interpreter at the Akron Children’s Hospital.
Economic hardship led Tyrek Mitchell to hold multiple jobs throughout his high school years. Still, the five-letter varsity star excelled in the classroom as well as the field, and he made time for volunteer service with the United Way and the Dog Shelter in Guernsey County.
Lauren Joy Frisby (not pictured) understands the power that music holds for coping with stress and promoting psychological well-being as she engages in the music ministry of her church. She will be studying Music Therapy in college to bring healing to others who have experienced trauma and emotional hardship.
The 2019 Beat the Odds Scholars have bright prospects ahead. They proved their mettle, overcoming their own challenges while also motivating and empowering others around them. With the valuable support from the Children’s Defense Fund, a world of opportunity is opening up to the Scholars, and I am confident that they will use this opportunity to do a world of good.