According to the Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education study, only 40% of Black students who attend college complete their degree program, and a reference in Bloomberg’s recent article on inequities in America’s Tax code, underscores this finding, stating that sixty percent of Black Americans who start college never finish it.
In December 2020, Western Union’s Black Advisory Council, and the Western Union Foundation partnered to establish Project Finish Line to address barriers that may prevent Black, indigenous, and underserved students from completing their degree program. Project Finish Line targets students in their junior or senior year of college and is just one arm of the Western Union Foundation’s WU Scholars program, launched in 2017. WU Scholars strives to provide scholarships to underserved students who are working to achieve their higher education.
The Project Finish Line scholarship recipients are a group of bright and determined students committed to finishing their degree program to make a positive impact in their community and the world. Learn more about their goals below, and join us in celebrating them.
Meet the Students
Anisah – Studying Mathematics at Spelman College
Anisah is a first-generation college student studying to become a Biomedical Engineer. Anisah was diagnosed with scoliosis and hopes to one day design a more cohesive and less painful treatment for the disorder. She hopes to implement significant pathological changes in the field of orthopedics. Anisah has been impacted by the challenges of the pandemic; yet, she continues on her journey toward graduating with her bachelor’s degree to one day become a doctor. To other students she says, “Don’t be afraid to take chances! Challenge yourself in classes and make friends and good connections with professors.”
Terrence – Studying Business Management at Xavier University of Louisiana
Terrence was drawn to the field of business, as it would allow him to work within the business sector while pursuing a career in HR or Business Analytics. With this opportunity, he will strive to positively contribute to Black representation in upper-level management. College has given him the skills needed to navigate a professional career. Terrence will one day use his knowledge to motivate others and lead them to their full potential. His advice to other students is to, “remember that we are all on our own journeys and paths in life, so don’t compare your progress to someone else’s.”
Jasmine – Studying Computer Science at Spelman College
Jasmine was always interested in technology and after one computer science class in high school, she knew she wanted to pursue the field as a career. As an African American woman in the field, she hopes to inspire more underrepresented groups to study technology. After graduation, Jasmine will pursue teaching computer science in low-income, minority schools. As STEM fields continue to grow, Jasmine hopes to not only teach the basics, but to encourage her students to innovate and make invaluable contributions to technology. Jasmine says it is important to “take time to reset. Making and taking time for myself during the school week has been beneficial to both my success as a student and my mental health.”
Kamara – Studying Biology at Alcorn State University
While Kamara is currently studying Biology, her concentration is in Pre-Medicine. One day, she hopes to become an OB/GYN specializing in the advancement of healthcare for African American and minority women. Kamara is not only a hard-working student managing a demanding course schedule, but passionate about her education. She currently holds an active status on the Dean’s List. Kamara says to other students, “goals are achievable no matter what obstacles you are faced with. Always believe in yourself until you reach success.”
Joshua – Studying Biomedical Engineering at Xavier University of Louisiana
Joshua is an active member of the National Society of Black Engineers. Through this membership, he is surrounded by a system of individuals advocating for his success. After he watched his father face medical hardships, he ultimately decided to pursue his Biomedical Engineering degree. Joshua hopes to construct artificial tissues and organs to help those impacted by health complications live a better quality of life. Though he has felt the impact of the pandemic, Joshua continues to focus on his STEM education. “
Christion – studying Math at San Diego State University
Christion grew up in a loving household where she received encouragement from her mother and grandparents who she admired greatly. She is currently studying math to fulfill her goal of becoming a teacher. She hopes to teach and support her students in ways that she did not receive when she was in their shoes. Christon continues to focus on her studies so that she can one day give back to her community. Christion says it is important to “embrace the failures you have and embrace the fear you have during your time as a student.”
Breunna – Studying Biology at Alcorn State University
Breunna is a first-generation college student studying Biology and pursuing a career in Optometry. Although she does not see a lot of people of color within the field, she is determined to leave a positive footprint. As a child, Breunna saw those around her fall victim to their circumstances and made the decision to not follow this path. She is dedicated to her studies and graduated as Valedictorian of her high school. Breunna aspires to help people who experience barriers due to a lack of information and resources.
Marie – Studying Biochemistry and Mathematics at University of Denver
Marie is a first-generation college student who chose higher education as means to overcome the generational poverty that affects many underrepresented communities such as her own. Marie is pursuing a medical degree to inspire change within inequitable healthcare systems. She hopes to one day offer healthcare to not only those that can afford it, but those who are less fortunate. Marie hopes to launch programs and clinics to make regular health checkups more accessible in low-income areas in the U.S. as well as remote areas in Africa.
Ashlynn – Studying Health Science at Spelman College
Ashlynn chose to attend college because she understands the importance of higher education and how it is an invaluable asset that can open doors in the future. Once Ashlynn and other members of her community were exposed to health disparities within the medical system she decided to pursue her degree in Health Science. She hopes to use her medical experience to provide adequate care and serve underserved communities.
LaRonjanae – Studying Business Administration at San Diego State University
LaRonjanae is a first-generation college student who decided to pursue a double major in business administration with emphasis in management and Spanish. She hopes to become her own boss while having the ability to communicate with others from different cultures and backgrounds. After graduation, LaRonjanae will seek an HR or business operations role where she will gain experience to, one day, start a non-profit in her hometown. Her educational journey was inspired by her grandfather’s deep-rooted knowledge in African American history and her uncle who serves as a spiritual and business mentor.
Liliana – Studying Physics at University of Denver
Liliana is an Indigenous and Mexican American woman who aims to honor her ancestors through her educational journey. Liliana’s journey was inspired by her grandparents who believed education is the catalyst to change for the Mexican American community and the key to success. Liliana decided in middle school that she would eventually study astrophysics. She never wavered from her dream and hopes to one day become the first member of her tribe to obtain a Ph.D. in astrophysics. Liliana will give back to her community this fall by encouraging minorities to further their understanding and appreciation of STEM concepts. She plans to contribute to the academic field with pride in her heritage by sharing the connection between Indigenous knowledge and STEM.