By Christina Masciere Wallace
Aliyah Johnson '14 thrives on challenge. The president of her class at Baltimore's prestigious Western High School, she belonged to the dance team, the volleyball team and the National Honor Society. She applied to several colleges and was accepted by all of them, but she needed more financial aid than the scholarships they offered her.
Then her high school principal told her about Bucknell and its new Charles T. Bauer Scholars Program. Created for outstanding students who live in the area served by Baltimore city schools, the no-loan, full-need award would let Johnson pursue her dream of becoming the first in her family to attend college. After a competitive application and interview process, she became one of five Bauer scholars in the Class of 2014, joining Melissa Harrington '13, the first Bauer recipient.
Johnson, who is thinking about majoring in political science or sociology, quickly jumped into campus life, even going so far as to start a dance team, the Bisonettes, that performs at University athletic events. "I saw that they needed halftime performances, and I figured it would be a good way to meet people," she explains.
Johnson exudes the kind of spirit that Andy '71, P'00 and Janet Bauer Hartman P'00 were hoping to nourish when they established the scholarship program, which is named for Janet's late father. Philanthropy is a family tradition for the Hartmans, who are parents of Meredith Hartman Shanley '00.
"My dad was brought up with modest means, but he was successful," Janet says. "He attributed his success to his good education. He lived a very modest life and wanted his money to go to good works." A former art teacher, she is a trustee of the Charles T. Bauer Family Foundation, which makes educational grants. In creating the scholarship program, the Hartmans saw an opportunity to help talented local teenagers while advancing Bucknell's goal of increasing campus diversity.
"We love the concept of the Posse program, and there is a lot of need here in Baltimore," says Andy, who majored in secondary education and taught in the Peace Corps. He walks the talk: After retiring from his banking career, he spent six years teaching in Baltimore city schools — 13 different subjects in 20 different classrooms. Again and again, he met students with great potential but no resources.
The impact of scholarships was not new to the Hartman family. In 2001, to honor his son-in-law, Bauer created the Andrew Wayne Hartman Class of 1971 Scholarship, which is given to students who intend to teach in the public schools or have a parent who does. "It's been a great experience for us," Andy says. "I am always impressed by the demeanor and character of these scholars. My wife and I have benefited as much as individuals as I hope the kids have."
Bucknell worked with the Hartmans to develop the program, which provides four years of no-loan, full-need scholarships for several students in each incoming class. A gift of $1 million made through the Charles T. Bauer Foundation established the program and covers a portion of each student's tuition and fees. The University pays the balance. The Hartmans and Bucknell hope to build the program so that as many qualified students as possible can attend the University with its support.
With the program established, Assistant Director of Admissions Yorelis Trotter set about recruiting applicants — not a simple task, as most of the targeted students were not familiar with Bucknell and many were hesitant about leaving the city. She spent a great deal of time visiting Baltimore to educate students, principals and counselors about the opportunity. She also invited counselors to come see the campus for themselves.
"Yorelis was a major influence in my decision to come here," says Megan Reid '14, who met Trotter at an information session at her high school, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. Reid turned down generous scholarships from other top universities in favor of Bucknell. "No other school had admissions counselors reach out to me like that," she says.
A visit to campus confirmed Reid's decision. "I asked myself, could I see myself developing, growing, and really learning here? I talked to professors and sat in on classes, and I knew this was the place for me," she remembers. A chemical engineering major, Reid plans to minor in creative writing and continues to pursue her passion for dance — she, too, is a founding member of the Bisonettes.
Bucknell sets the criteria for scholar selection and interviews applicants nominated by their high school counselors, giving preference to low income, under-represented students with academic ability, growth potential and interest in the greater world. As a condition of the program, the recipients must take part in TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More), a mentoring program administered through the Multicultural Student Services Office.
"TEAM is a value-added experience for the scholars," Trotter says. "There are transition difficulties coming from an urban environment, as well as moving from high school to college. The TEAM program pairs them with older student mentors and helps smooth the transition."
None of the Bauer scholars had met before last August, when the Hartmans invited them all to dinner at their home. "We were so impressed by the energy level and cheerfulness of the students," Janet says. "They seemed genuinely excited about going to Bucknell." Other Class of 2014 scholars include Dominique Douglas '14, Jasmin Johnson '14 and Marktil Burton '14.
The Hartmans caught up with the scholars at the University's 22nd annual Scholarship Day Luncheon, held April 30 at Sojka Pavilion. The event, which drew more than 500 guests, is an opportunity for scholarship benefactors and recipients to spend time together and celebrate student accomplishments. The students told the couple that they already look forward to welcoming the two newest Bauer scholars, Antonio Weeks '15 and Travon Martin '15, at the Hartmans' home later this summer.
"It was wonderful to see them again," says Janet. "They were enthusiastic and delightful, and have grown so much since we met them last year — they exude confidence. It was gratifying to see how well they're doing at Bucknell." The Foundation recently committed an additional $1 million to the program.
Now Johnson plans to pursue a career in law, while Reid hopes to someday develop chemical treatments to stem hair loss caused by chemotherapy. "This scholarship is a true investment in us," Reid says. "I am so grateful."
Johnson agrees. "I am so appreciative of this," she says. "I've done so many things. Last fall, we went rock-climbing at CLIMBucknell. I climbed all the way to the top of the tower and walked around the ropes. The rest of the girls on my scholarship told me I was crazy. But I'm a daredevil, and I'll do anything. I got to the top. I rang the bell."
Pictured from left to right: Aliyah Johnson '14, Jasmin Johnson '14, Marktil Burton '14, Andy Hartman '71, P'00, Janet Bauer Hartman P'00, Megan Reid '14, Melissa Harrington '13 and Dominique Douglas '14.
Posted: January 19, 2012
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