VHS graduate earns scholarship, will attend Morehouse

Published 2:30 pm Tuesday, August 31, 2021

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Visa recently announced the inaugural class of the Visa Black Scholars and Jobs Program, awarding 50 incoming first-year college students around the country scholarship assistance for up to four years. Among the class members is LaDerrick Smith of Angie, a recent Varnado High School graduate. Smith will attend Morehouse College, in Atlanta, Ga.

Visa Black Scholars will work with Visa mentors throughout their college experience, participate in a Scholars Summit at Visa’s HQ in 2022 and receive year-round programming and training aimed at developing their professional and technical skills. Scholars will also be provided opportunities for paid internships and those who meet program requirements will be invited to join Visa full-time after graduation.

Established in partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the Visa Black Scholars and Jobs Program includes a $10 million investment over the next five years, a meaningful milestone in Visa’s inclusion and diversity journey to drive lasting positive change.

“We are honored to recognize this group of extremely talented students and to support their educational aspirations through the Visa Black Scholars and Jobs Program,” said Kelly Mahon Tullier, Visa Executive Vice President, Chief Legal and Administrative Officer and program mentor. “At Visa, we believe that change starts with action and we are committed to advancing racial equality and closing the opportunity gap. Through this program, we are supporting a pipeline of diverse future leaders in the business and technology sectors.”

This fall, the 50 Visa Black Scholars are attending four-year institutions in all regions of the country, including Brown University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Howard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Morehouse College, North Carolina A&T State University, University of Maryland Baltimore, University of Michigan, and Yale University, among others.

In addition to scholarship assistance, students receive Visa mentors to advise their aspirations and goals as they transition from high school to college and from college to the professional workforce. The mentorship program is a multifaceted experience intended to further scholars’ personal, academic and professional development and teach career and life skills. Scholars have direct access to their mentors throughout the program, maintaining regular interaction and consistent support. All mentors are volunteers and went through an application process that evaluated, selected and paired them with scholars based on specified criteria and eligibility requirements.

“Today’s college-bound students are facing incredible challenges, with students attending and leaving institutions with more debt than ever before,” said Dr. Harry L. Williams, President & CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. “The Visa Black Scholars are current and future change-makers of our society, and our hope is that we can provide those incredible students with the financial assistance they need to focus on what matters most. This program is even more critical in our current climate as we strive to create a more just and equitable society.”

The Visa Black Scholars and Jobs Program is designed for college-bound black and African-American students in the United States. Eligible high school seniors who are pursuing an education in a business or technology field and intend to enroll as a full-time undergraduate in an accredited four-year college or university in the United States are eligible for this scholarship grant. Scholars who continue to meet the criteria, remain in good standing and maintain a minimum of 3.0 grade-point average at their university will be eligible for annual renewals. Hundreds of students from across the United States applied for the 2021 program.