Micah Demarest made up his mind to attend college in the 8th grade, but he wanted to do it without incurring massive amounts in student debt.
Demarest searched on the internet and watched videos online as young people do on graduating college without debt. He had no idea how he would do it, but knew he needed to get scholarships.
“I started applying to scholarships seriously around Junior year to no avail, yet when the card came to me spring of Senior year, I still took the chance,” said Demarest. Demarest is referring to the card seeking applications for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. “I went to the TMCF website immediately, read of the opportunities offered and completed my application not long after. My main motivation was to fulfill the goal that I had since eighth grade and to achieve an education for myself that none of my immediate family has had yet.”
Demarest received a golden opportunity when he was picked for the Visa Black Scholars and Jobs Program, a partnership between Visa, a leading payments technology company, and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a nonprofit organization that represents 47 publicly funded Black colleges and universities.
Visa Black Scholars and Jobs Program is a $10 million investment in college-bound Black students over the next five years. Demarest was among just 50 incoming first-year college students from around the country picked for the program.
Demarest will receive up to $20,000 per year towards his college education. As long as he keeps a 3.0 grade point average, he will be able to renew the scholarship for all four years of college.
“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.”
Demarest, who is attending the New Jersey Institute of Technology in the fall, will also be paired with a Visa mentor throughout his college experience. He will also participate in the Scholars Summit at Visa’s HQ in 2022. Participants will also be offered paid internship with a possible invitation to join Visa full-time after graduation.
“Education provides access and opportunity, and Visa embraces a world where more students of all backgrounds can reach their full potential through education,” said Michelle Gethers-Clark, Visa chief diversity officer and head of corporate social responsibility and program mentor. “The Visa Black Scholars and Jobs Program eliminates financial hurdles in education and supports the development of income-earning skills through a program designed to have multi-generational impact for our scholars and their families.”
The 50 scholars picked by the program are attending four-year schools all over the United States. Some of them are attending 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 in the fall.
“Today’s college-bound students are facing incredible challenges, with students attending and leaving institutions with more debt than ever before,” said Harry L. Williams, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. “The Visa Black Scholars are current and future changemakers 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.”