The University of Pennsylvania’s Volunteers in Public Service Scholarship Program has awarded five $1,000 supplemental scholarships to local college-bound students who have made a difference in West Philadelphia and beyond.
Each year VIPS provides the special funds to seniors from Overbrook, West Philadelphia, Parkway, Bartram and Sayre High schools, with the goal of helping the students attend college by providing financial support.
The supplemental scholarships are designed to cover expenses such as books, supplies, health insurance and other non-tuition expenses that are not typically included in college financial aid packages.
Now in its 23rd year, the VIPS program brings together the Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships and Business Services Division to conduct fundraising activities, manage the committee and select awardees.
The VIPS program also provides the winners with a seminar on the college planning process, as well as dormitory room necessities gathered from the Penn MOVES program, such as microwaves, TVs, irons, ironing boards, trash cans and mini-refrigerators.
This year’s VIPS scholarships awards ceremony honored the community service of high school seniors Khristian Baldwin, Shidea Graham, Basil Hasan, Aaron Turner and Asia White.
Each of the scholarship recipients has maintained a 2.5 grade point average or higher, demonstrated a history of community service and has been accepted into an accredited college or university for the fall semester.
When not playing varsity football, wrestling or lacrosse at West Philadelphia High School, Khristian Baldwin is active with neighborhood clean-ups and peer mentoring at the Sayre Morris Recreation Center. Through his volunteering activities, he says he has learned “leadership, guidance, respect, honor and to be more understanding with people of all ages, backgrounds, races and mindsets.” Baldwin plans to attend Mansfield University of Pennsylvania.
Bartram High School’s Shidea Graham volunteers by cleaning vacant city lots through Philly Spring Clean-up Day. She also has participated in charity walks for hunger, AIDS research and the March of Dimes. This fall, she will attend Shippensburg University.
Basil Hasan attends Sayre High School and is active with the Philadelphia Student Union, a student-centered organization that advocates for safe, high-quality city schools. He says volunteering “can help you become a better person. When you are doing good deeds, you feel good about yourself.” He plans to go to Community College of Philadelphia.
Aaron Turner is an honor roll student at Overbrook High School. He serves in the Reserve Officer Training Corps and volunteers his time to help feed underprivileged families. He says that community service “is a big part of making the world a better place.” Turner plans to attend Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Asia White is a member of the debate team and the poetry club at Parkway West High School. She has been an active volunteer at St. Ignatius Catholic Church and the Ronald McDonald House, where she met a sick boy who changed her life. He taught White that “others may be in situations they have no control over and for someone to lend a helping hand makes a big difference.” She plans to attend Cazenovia College.