Three Students Receive Educational Opportunity Scholarships

LAWRENCE — Every year, one to three students at the University of Kansas who have overcome significant personal hardships are awarded the Jerry Bailey Educational Opportunity Scholarship. The scholarship program, now in its sixth year, was established by KU’s Center for Educational Opportunity Programs (CEOP) to support underrepresented and first-generation students with limited income as they pursue undergraduate degrees.

The 2019 recipients:

Emily Benitz-Corado, a 2019 graduate of Garden City High School in Garden City, is a first-generation college student in her first year at KU. She is actively involved in and supported by two on-campus programs: Heartland College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) and the Multicultural Scholars Program. Being a young single mother has inspired Benitz-Corado to pursue a career as a gynecologist to provide support and resources for other teen mothers. Upon finding out she was one of the recipients of the scholarship, Benitz-Corado said, “These people believe in me, and they know that I’ll be somewhere in the future.”

Cayden Hearne, salutatorian of the class of 2019 at Highland Park High School in Topeka, is a first-generation college student supported by the Hixson Opportunity Award and KU TRIO Supportive Education Services (SES). Hearne is pursuing a degree in secondary education with a focus in English. Cayden describes winning the scholarship as “a big confidence booster for me. I’ve always had low self-esteem in general, and getting a scholarship like this lifts me up that much more.”

Lisa Lim, the daughter of Cambodian immigrants and a 2017 graduate of Dodge City High in Dodge City, is in her third year at KU pursuing a degree in pharmaceutical studies. To receive the Jerry Bailey Scholarship is something that Lim sees as a form of encouragement. She described it as having “little cheerleaders all around,” and she hopes to someday return that gift to future students.

“I just want to say thank you. I cannot say it enough to people who even think about providing the funds for people who want to go to school,” she said. “For students like me who find it really hard to go to school and find the funds, it’s always an obstacle.”

About the scholarship:

The award honors Jerry Bailey, associate professor emeritus of education. In his career at KU, Bailey led more than 200 sponsored programs within the School of Education and was instrumental in the development and growth of current CEOP programs.

“Jerry Bailey is a wonderful friend and colleague and was key to our center’s development,” said CEOP Director Ngondi Kamatuka. “He believes in our mission. This scholarship honors his commitment to helping students gain access and achieve success in higher education.”

To be eligible for the scholarships, applicants must be newly entering freshmen, transfer students or continuing undergraduate students at KU, and they must be enrolled full-time (12-plus credits) during the fall term of the scholarship award. The selection committee gives preference to applicants who meet as many of the following criteria as possible: demonstrate financial need; are first-generation college students, meaning neither parent/guardian has earned a four-year college degree; are current or former participants of a KU CEOP program (TRIO, GEAR UP or CAMP programs); have achieved academic success despite hardship or unusual challenge(s); demonstrate personal motivation for achieving academic and career goals.

About the Center for Educational Opportunity Programs (CEOP):

Housed within the KU Achievement & Assessment Institute (AAI) the mission of the Center for Educational Opportunity Programs is to build a legacy of learners and leaders through a commitment to educational equity. The center houses college access and support programs including TRIO, GEAR UP, CAMP and STEP UP along with a student scholarship program and a Research, Evaluation & Dissemination Department. CEOP addresses educational inequality by breaking down barriers faced by low-income and first-generation college students. These barriers to higher education are confronted by programs that provide academic, financial, and cultural support to over 9,000 people across seven counties.