Return to Headlines

Army of Believers awards 13 scholarships at annual luncheon


The CMSD Army of Believers was urged to “go to war” Friday.

That was part of the phrasing used by keynote speaker Felton Thomas Jr., CEO and executive director of the Cleveland Public Library, to encourage school supporters fighting toward the transformation of the District at the 7th annual scholarship luncheon.

“I’m here before the Army of Believers to talk about going to war with believing, getting the community of Cleveland to really understand we have this city to believe in because it affects the Cleveland school district, our libraries, everything,” Thomas Jr. said, noting recent positive news of the Republican National Convention and LeBron James both choosing to come to Cleveland.

A native of Las Vegas, Thomas Jr. said CMSD is a large part of a much larger renaissance, but one that some people in Cleveland still don’t know about.

“There are folks who don’t know all that were doing,” he said. “The don’t know about the Republican Convention, they don’t know about the revitalization of Public Square, of the new (Innerbelt) bridge, of the city’s new focus on local food and top-notch chefs. They don’t that companies are moving back to the core of this city.

“They don’t know that parents are making the decision to keep their kids in the city of Cleveland, to raise their families in the city of Cleveland.”

District CEO Eric Gordon also welcomed the record crowd of more than 530 supporters at the luncheon before turning over ceremonies to Chief Academic Officer Christine Fowler Mack, who awarded the $5,000 scholarships.

The student scholarship winners were:
   • Jamekia Nicole Nelson of Cleveland Early College at John Hay, who will major in engineering at Ohio State University-Mansfield
   • Jennifer Tan Nguyen of Cleveland Early College at John Hay, who will major in business at John Carroll University
   • Meilenys Idbel Peraza of Cleveland Early College at John Hay, who will major in Japanese at Ohio State
   • Guadaloupe Rogel of Lincoln West High, who will major in sociology at Columbia University
   • Toneisha Decarla Stubbs of Cleveland Early College, who will major in pre-Med at Kenyon College
   • Yu Zhang of Lincoln West High, who will study chemical engineering at Ohio State-Mansfield.

Five students also received 2014 Eaton Scholarships: Nicholas James Gehler of Max Hayes High,who still study mechanical engineering at Cleveland State University; Precious Nishea Moore of MC2STEM High, who will study biology at Hampton University; Brittany Shanee Murphy of MC2STEM High, who will study mechanical engineering at the University of Akron; Austin Lee Pope of MC2STEM High, who will study marketing at Bowling Green State University; and Joshua David White of MC2STEM High, who will study international business at Hawaii Pacific University.

Two other students received the Community Service Scholarship: Toni L. Airaksinen of the School of Architecture and Design at John Hay High, who will study urban studies at Barnard College; and Brittany Hope Kincaid of the School of Science and Medicine at John Hay, who will study psychology at John Carroll University.
CMSD Board Chair Denise Link, who had won the 2013 Urban Educator of the Year honor in October 2013 at the Council of the Great City Schools’ 57th annual Fall Conference in Albuquerque, N.M. also acknowledged Yu “Mike” Zhang of Lincoln West as the winner of the $10,000 scholarship that went along with her award.

The 13 winners were chosen from among 104 applicants, based on academic records or overall contributions to the community, recommendations, an essay and an interview. The Eaton Corp. funded five of the scholarships.

William T. Hiller, executive director of the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, and David J. LaRue, president and chief executive officer of Forest City Enterprises, are honorary co-chairs of this year’s luncheon.

Five “five-star generals” were also honored for service to the community: the Abington Foundation, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland, MetroHealth System, the United Way of Greater Cleveland and the late Arnold R. Pinkney. Pinkney, a nationally known civil rights leader, former Cleveland school board member and longtime District advocate, died in January at the age of 83. 
Pinkney's wife and daughter accepted the award on his behalf and received an ovation from the crowd.