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Scholarship established to support first-generation college students

One of the largest Coca-Cola bottlers in the U.S. is sponsoring a scholarship for first-generation students at Oklahoma City University.

The Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages First-Gen Scholarship was funded by a $75,000 gift to support the educational pursuits of a student group that often faces challenges in finishing their studies.

“OCU and Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages have a long-standing partnership and mutual commitment to student success,” said Levi Harrel-Hallmark, OCU dean of students. “Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages saw an opportunity to invest in the initiatives OCU provides to first-year students and the university’s support systems in place specifically for first-generation students.”

The funding provides scholarships and book stipends for eight first-generation students for the next five semesters. The students will serve as interns with the OCU Office of Career Services; Office of the Dean of Students; Office of Student Engagement; Office of Religious Life; and Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion. Students will apply for the scholarships, and the managing supervisors from each office will select the recipients for their respective areas.

First-generation students are commonly defined as students whose parent(s) did not earn a four-year college degree. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, “research shows that first-gen students often confront significant obstacles in accessing higher education, succeeding after enrollment, and graduating.” Such students are more likely to attend classes part time, or must find ways to make their class schedule work with a full-time job.

A Pew Research Foundation study in 2021 found that first-generation college graduates incurred more debt paying for their education.

“This scholarship will provide first-generation college students with experiential learning opportunities to explore and expand their professional interests while working toward their degrees. It will help to make their dreams their realities,” Harrel-Hallmark added.

For more information about the scholarship, contact Harrel-Hallmark at 405-208-6287 or [email protected].

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