When Cory Matthews received an email from Temple University on March 2 congratulating him on earning a full tuition scholarship to the university, he and his mom celebrated by dancing and taking pictures outside Morgan Hall.
“It was literally like, one of my best days ever,” said Matthews, a senior at Parkway Center City Middle College who lives at 10th Street near Jefferson.
Twenty-five students from public Philadelphia high schools will attend Temple in the fall with a four-year base tuition scholarship which they received on March 1 through the Cecil B. Moore Scholars Program, a scholarship initiative for high school students in North Central. Temple and Steppingstone Scholars, an organization that increases college access for students experiencing economic hardship, selected the recipients from the eight ZIP codes surrounding Main Campus.
Shortly after receiving the award, Matthews had to calm his excitement to focus on his Temple class, Why Care About College: Higher Education in American Life, he said.
“It was hard for me to even hold my bearings during my Temple class,” he added. “I went to the class and everything was normal, I just literally couldn’t stop smiling. I was so excited.”
The scholars program is a part of Temple’s $1 million anti-racist initiative announced in September 2020. The program aims to combat racial disparities in higher education by enabling more students from high schools in North Central to attend Temple, The Temple News reported.
Temple accepted 40 students into the program in November 2020 to participate in a dual enrollment course during the spring semester and be considered for the scholarship. All of the students attend high schools in the School District of Philadelphia or charter high schools and live in ZIP codes 19121, 19122, 19123, 19125, 19130, 19132, 19133 and 19140, according to Temple Now.
The selection committee reviewed applications in mid-February and selected students two weeks later. The selection includes six additional students on a waitlist who will be given the scholarship if any of the recipients decline, said Chris Avery, vice president of programs at Steppingstone Scholars.
“Considering how competitive the process was, we wanted to be able to have as many of them as possible and decide to actually come to Temple,” said Avery, who served on the selection committee.
Anyae Scott, a senior at Simon Gratz High School who lives at 24th Street near Somerset, called her mom and some high school teachers after she found out she received the scholarship.
“I felt good like, I felt relieved that most of my financial part would be covered,” Scott said.
The recipients will participate in a two-credit course summer bridge program during Temple’s Summer II session from June 22 to Aug. 2 focused on reading, writing and math proficiency; building community with other students; wellness practices; and preparing to be on campus in the fall, said Paris Williams, assistant director of student engagement and access at Temple, and program director for the scholars program.
The team is still determining the course’s format, but expects it will be virtual with some in-person connection and campus visits, said Williams, who will lead the course.
Other students in the scholars program who did not receive the scholarship will complete the spring dual enrollment course, and the program team is advising these students on acquiring financial support that is separate from the scholars program, Avery said.
Scott is excited to attend a university that is familiar to her and has a calm and diverse environment, she said.
“I’m excited like, to go to college in general too, but like Temple being a school that I wanted to go to, I’m more excited,” Scott added.