University News

Columbus students celebrate new full tuition scholarships

February 27, 2017

Eighteen outstanding students from Columbus City high schools have been awarded the first Denison-Columbus Alliance scholarships from Denison University in Granville, Ohio. The Alliance represents a unique new partnership between Denison University, I Know I Can and the Columbus City Schools. Together the three entities worked to identify high-achieving students with significant financial need. As their families looked on, the scholarship awards were presented to the students at a special dinner at The Granville Inn on Saturday, January 21, 2017.

Teckie and Don Shackelford (Classes of 1956 and 1954) established the scholarship program with a lead gift of $4 million. They hope to encourage other members of the Denison family and the Central Ohio community to provide philanthropic support to enable Columbus students to attend Denison. Eventually, the Denison-Columbus Alliance will provide full-tuition scholarships for up to 20 qualified seniors each year from Columbus area high schools.

“The notion of a cooperative effort between Denison and I Know I Can has been in the back of my mind for a least 25 years,” said Shackelford. “Columbus City Schools, Denison University, and I Know I Can are working together to create educational opportunities for worthy students. One can only begin to imagine where these students will be in four or five years and beyond. They will be successful and we will be proud of them all.”

The 18 students who make up the inaugural class hail from 10 different Columbus City high schools. Along with the funding, students will receive training and support from I Know I Can staff and Denison faculty before they enter college and during their time at Denison, ensuring that they successfully transition into college and succeed. The program also will give students opportunities to use the winter and summer breaks between semesters to focus on life and jobs skills. Pulling from Denison’s extensive network in Columbus, students will have access to alumni coaches who will help them use the breaks for internships, externships, seminars and other projects that allows them to explore potential professional pathways. Students also will engage in community projects that “give back” to Columbus.

“A Denison education is so much more than four years in a classroom,” said Denison President Adam Weinberg. “These students will be mentored by some of the finest faculty in their fields, they will be engaged across the curriculum and across the campus in athletics, arts and activities that will help them develop leadership and teamwork skills. And they will have a head start on their future professions through Denison’s outstanding career preparation program, which works with students from the time they step foot on campus.” He added, “We all want Denison to help these students learn to dream big about the kind of life they want to lead, and we want to give them the education, the experiences, and the networks to make that a reality.

President Weinberg also commented that the Alliance would not be possible without the incredible work of I Know I Can, one of the most successful college access programs in the country and the only such program in Columbus. With a team of dedicated staff and advisors, as well as partnerships with Columbus City Schools, I Know I Can offers a range of services and programs for students in the Columbus City Schools from children’s books to one-on-one counseling and in-depth college planning blueprints that ensure success for all grade levels. One measure of the success and impact of I Know I Can are the more than 22,000 grants given to Columbus City Schools graduates valued at nearly $23 million, which, leveraged with additional financial aid, are worth more than $300 million.

“These scholarships are absolutely life-changing for these students,” said Katina Fullin, executive director of I Know I Can. “We know that our model of support for students through their school years prepares them for college success, and lives of purpose and meaning. We are thrilled with this commitment from Denison to be a significant partner in this work.”

President Weinberg added that Shackelford deserves a lot of the credit for making this project happen. “This is a partnership between two organizations, I Know I Can and Denison University, that Teckie Shackelford has spent decades helping to drive forward. Her civic commitment and wisdom is inspiring. She is a role model for the rest of us.”

For scholarship recipient Nisana Biswa, this is a dream come true. “When I first came to the United States in 2008 from a refugee camp in Nepal, I knew that this was the country where I could bring my dreams to life,” said Biswa. “The first few years of living in the United States were a struggle for me. I faced a language barrier, bullying, lack of friends and failing grades but I didn't let myself drown in the same situation I’d been in before. I spent hours and hours studying, practicing English, working hard and I have worked my way up to where I am today. I have kept my grades up all through high school, made new friends, gained confidence and learned new things, and my greatest achievement of all is the Denison-Columbus Alliance Scholarship. Being a Denison-Columbus Alliance Scholar reflects all my hard work and proves that nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself.”

Denison University’s place at the forefront of higher education is recognized by “Colleges That Change Lives,” U.S. News, and Forbes, among others. Denison is a leading national college of liberal arts and sciences where students from around the world come to pursue academic inquiry and research, to analyze and solve problems, and to forge the skills needed to succeed. On a beautiful, fully residential campus, located minutes from Forbes-rated #1 Opportunity City, Columbus, Ohio, students build enduring relationships and pathways to the professions, supported by faculty mentorship in classrooms, laboratories and studios; through a wealth of career-launch programs and internships; and in partnership with a thriving, far-reaching alumni network.

Back to top