Will Hehemann | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences
Forty-two students in the School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences (SAFHS) at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) currently have the honor of calling themselves “UAPB 1890 Scholars,” according to Dr. Tomekia White, coordinator for the UAPB 1890 Scholarship Program. These are the UAPB students who have been chosen to receive scholarships funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) as authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill.
“The 1890 Scholarship Program provides scholarships to undergraduate students at the nation’s 19 historically black land-grant universities – the 1890s,” Dr. White said. “Of the 42 students, 14 are returning scholars and 28 are new to the program. These students will all pursue degrees in the food and agricultural sciences and related fields in SAFHS.”
This was UAPB’s second academic year in receiving the scholarship funds. Scholarships were awarded in amounts of $4,000, $6,000, $8,000 and $20,000 per year, dependent upon GPA and ACT requirements.
“The scholarships have provided many students an opportunity to receive an education without having to worry about student debt when they graduate,” Dr. White said. “We are not only trying to recruit new students but retain those students by making sure they have everything they need to be successful.”
Dr. White said orientation sessions were recently held to get new students acclimated to the program and to introduce them to resources available on the UAPB campus. For example, they learned how to take advantage of the Student Success Center, which provides tutoring, math and writing support services.
“Our scholars encounter a lot of problems as freshmen that they do not know how to begin to resolve,” she said. “This year I wanted to make a difference and prevent some of these issues by identifying people put in place to help them.”
Students also heard from faculty and representatives of their academic departments and related clubs. Participating clubs included Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), the American Fisheries Society, the US Aquaculture Society, the Office of International Programs and Studies and Career Services.
As she continues to develop the scholarship program, Dr. White said she is partnering with Dr. Nina Lyon-Bennett, assistant dean for academics in SAFHS, on a mentorship program for the 1890 scholars.
“Each scholar will be assigned mentors with closely aligned interests,” she said. “I will work with the assigned mentors to provide guidance and oversight on the scholars’ academic and professional pursuits. My duties include providing guidance in networking, pursuing internships, attending conferences and other professional development activities as students work toward careers in food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences.”
Dr. White’s daughter, Morgan White, is one of the new scholars. A freshman majoring in regulatory sciences, White said she applied to the program thanks to her mother’s encouragement. She chose her major because of her interest in regulating policies and evaluating the quality and performance of different products.
“I am looking forward to making long-term connections with people in my field of work and gaining knowledge that I will be able to take with me as I progress into my major,” she said.
Allison Jackson, a sophomore majoring in agricultural business and returning 1890 scholar, said she hopes her education at UAPB will result in a deep understanding of the business side of agriculture, as well as the USDA, where she would like to be employed.
“I found out about the program through a family friend, and she introduced me to Dr. White,” she said. “Once Dr. White explained everything to me, I knew then and there the agricultural business major would fit me. The program has benefitted me in many ways through networking and having great teachers who are willing to go the extra mile to help you understand your lessons.”
Isaiah Young, a sophomore majoring in plant science-agronomy, said he has received a lot of support in the scholarship program from Edlun Marshall, who works for the Division of Enrollment Management and Student Success at UAPB. Denetra Williams, who is from his hometown, Marvell, Arkansas, originally told Young about the scholarship and also helped him pick his major. Young said agronomy is a good fit for him because he grew up around agriculture and appreciates the financial and job security of the field.
If it were not for the 1890 scholarship, Young believes he would not be enrolled in college right now.
“I have truly benefited from this program,” he said. “It has given me the ability to experience college life … My education here has opened my mind up a lot. My high school wasn’t always the best when it came to teaching, but this school has given me the ability to learn. I’m very appreciative of that.”
In coordinating the program, Dr. White said she finds the ability to provide funding opportunities for students whose families may not have the means to send them to college incredibly meaningful. She also appreciates the confidence and trust she has built with each scholar.
“They trust me enough to go beyond the call of duty for them, and there has not been one issue I could not help them resolve,” she said. “My ability to pave a road to success by holding their hands as we take this journey together is priceless. Some students call me, ‘Momma White,’ because I constantly stay on them to ensure their academic success, and they know it’s all out of love. I will do the same for our new scholars.”
For more information on the 1890 Scholarships Program, contact Dr. White at (870) 575-8139 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.