Fueling the future by ensuring that students get their best opportunity to succeed, Toyota is partnering with Rainbow PUSH Excel to provide $75,000 scholarships to 10 deserving engineering and business college students through the Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. Fellows Scholarships. As an encouragement for all students to put their best foot forward and take their education seriously, the scholarship recipients received their awards at the Annual Rainbow PUSH Back-To-School Rally in Chicago.
"The scholarship recipients were selected from hundreds of applicants," said Simon Nagata, chief administrative officer, Toyota North America. "Toyota is proud to recognize and invest in the outstanding academic achievements of these 10 scholars. The commitment to community service and personal excellence of these future leaders is truly inspiring, and we are excited to be a part of their journey."
With STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) professional jobs going unfilled, Toyota is preparing to fill the pipeline with qualified candidates. The scholarships were awarded to college students who are majoring in either STEM or business academics. Students had to also demonstrate participation in community service, be in financial need, and were required to obtain sophomore status as of August 1, 2015. The $25,000 scholarship is renewable each year for a maximum three-year period. In order to receive the award each year, the students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 throughout the school year. In addition to the scholarships, Toyota is offering these students the opportunity to work at one of their facilities across North America to gain valuable real-world experience, as well as be paired with mentors from Toyota management to help guide them through the next three years of college.
The selection process was both rigorous and comprehensive. A group of 20 student semi-finalists went through a structured selection process which involved written essays, letters of recommendations and rounds of onsite interviews involving several members of Rainbow PUSH Excel, as well as Toyota's executive and management teams in Northern Kentucky. The group was narrowed down to 10 students who were awarded the scholarships. These extraordinary students' studies range from chemical to mechanical engineering to business finance and marketing; while hometowns stretch from Cameroon, Central Africa to Chicago, IL. The 10 student scholarship recipients are:
Marielle Cameron from Chicago, Illinois, is a business marketing major at Florida A&M University (FAMU). She has always desired to attend FAMU since the sixth grade; she currently has a 3.8 GPA.
Jasmine Cooper was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina and attends the University of North Carolina at Wilmington as an industrial engineering student with a 3.6 GPA. Jasmine is pursuing the industrial engineering path because it is business-focused, and she is passionate about the study of ergonomics and all its encompassing human factors.
Grace Fomani is a student at Tuskegee University, where she studies chemical engineering. Originally from Cameroon, Central Africa, Grace later moved to Fort Worth, Texas. Although not discounting medical school in the future, she feels called to be an engineer because she likes to create things.
Elias Lee, born in Chattanooga, Tennessee and raised in Montgomery, Alabama, was home-schooled from the 5th through 10th grades. Entering high school at the age of 14, he was at the top of his 11th grade class. Always building things since he was a child led him to study mechanical engineering at Auburn University in Montgomery.
Jared Mitchell is from Norristown, Pennsylvania, and is a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta studying Applied Physics and Engineering. He has a current 3.97 GPA. Jared also conducted independent research at Princeton University. He has a natural love for science and wants to focus on sustainable infrastructure or renewable energy upon graduation.
Kerrington Munson, a native of Orlando, Florida, is currently a business finance major at Morehouse College and wants to pursue a career in the field of wealth and asset management upon graduation. He is involved with many organizations and received a Youth Humanitarian honor by the Mayor of Orlando and a Presidential Ambassador honor for Morehouse College.
Dalya Sanders, born and raised in Beaumont, Texas, attends Prairie View A&M University in Texas. She is a business student and is involved in several organizations. She has plans to expand her business knowledge by venturing into nonprofit community development upon graduation.
Mekhi Seraile, born and raised in Atlanta, attends Xavier University of Louisiana and is pursuing Mechanical Engineering. He attributes his passion for airplanes to his grandmother who often took him to see airplanes take off and land during his youth. He is looking forward to studying aerospace mechanical engineering.
Raven Smith from Virginia Beach, VA attends Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, where she studies chemical engineering and has a 4.0 GPA. She was double promoted during her primary schooling and graduated high school at age 16. Raven is involved in numerous organizations such as National Society of Collegiate Scholars and accredits her father for sparking her interest in science.
Tina Watson, born and raised in Chicago, is now a 3.81 GPA student at Fisk University in Nashville, TN studying business administration management. She is a non-traditional student who overcame a challenging heath diagnosis which caused her to rethink her educational background. After graduation, she plans to work at a major corporation doing work in the area of higher education.
"We are extremely proud of these students and are passionate about lifting any burden or obstacle that may prevent these distinguished students from reaching their highest potential," said Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., founder and president of Rainbow PUSH Coalition. "Students who prove themselves capable and eager deserve every opportunity within reach to become all they set out to be in life. We thank Toyota for their generous support and for sharing in our vision to improve the academic lives of these students."
As part of the selection process students took an in-depth tour of Toyota's largest vehicle manufacturing facility in North America, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, Inc. in Georgetown, KY; were guided through the various disciplines of running a local Toyota dealership; and through management and employee discussions learned about the local and global history of Toyota. They were also treated to a local minor league baseball game.
Toyota (NYSE: TM), the world's top automaker and creator of the Prius, is committed to building vehicles for the way people live through our Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands. Over the past 50 years, we've built more than 25 million cars and trucks in North America, where we operate 14 manufacturing plants (10 in the U.S.) and directly employ more than 40,000 people (more than 32,000 in the U.S.). Our 1,800 North American dealerships (1,500 in the U.S.) sold more than 2.6 million cars and trucks (more than 2.37 million in the U.S.) in 2014 – and about 80 percent of all Toyota vehicles sold over the past 20 years are still on the road today. For more information about Toyota, visit www.toyotanewsroom.com.
About Rainbow PUSH Excel
PUSH for Excellence, Inc. (PUSH Excel) is a tax-exempt organization founded in 1975 by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. and a number of nationally recognized educators to inspire students to strive for excellence in education in spite of personal, family, and community challenges that they might experience. The mission of PUSH Excel is to promote education excellence by engaging the stakeholders in education to work collaboratively to create opportunities, transform the lives of students and improve communities by: Advocating for educational policies that guarantee equal funding for all students without regard to race or economic standing; Engaging parents, students, and teachers in pursuing high quality education and striving for educational excellence at every level; Forging partnerships with community based and public sector stakeholders in education.