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Occidental College Launches Barack Obama Scholarships

Occidental College. (Photo via Facebook)
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Occidental College announced Wednesday a new Barack Obama Scholars Program, which provides full financial support to 20 students a year with an emphasis on veterans, community college transfers, and students who are the first in their family to attend college. The program will begin in fall of 2018.

So far, Occidental has raised $7 million of an eventual $40 million endowment. The school will begin by offering two scholarships next fall, according to their announcement, eventually ramping up to 20 total scholarships. Besides covering the entire cost of Occidental's $70,000/year cost for tuition and boarding, the program will provide funding for summer programs like studying abroad and internships. The college eventually hopes to develop a large enough endowment to also provide post-graduate fellowships for students entering low-paying fields, according to the NYTimes California Newsletter.

Obama Scholars will also be associated with the Program's Advisory Committee, which is comprised of Occidental alumni who work primarily in public works, politics, and/or education. Occidental describes the scholars program as a tool to "empower the next generation of leaders to actively pursue the public good," drawing from President Obama's time as a lawyer and public servant in order to inspire a new generation of students who hope to enter similar fields.

Obama attended Occidental from 1979 to 1981 before transferring to Columbia University to finish his undergraduate degree. “My years at Occidental College sparked my interest in social and political causes, and filled me with the idea that my voice could make a difference,” he said, in reference to the creation of Occidental's program. “That’s why I’m so humbled by the Barack Obama Scholars Program at Oxy, and proud of its mission to identify promising young people from all backgrounds," he added, supporting its plan to "train the next generation of leaders and active citizens, and fill them with the conviction that they too can change the world."