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Timely Help

New scholarships aimed at helping students of color

Lynn Omondi, ’24, can now focus fully on her studies thanks to a new Bridgewater State University scholarship designed to lessen the financial stress of higher education for students of color like her.

“I feel cared about,” the Newburyport resident said of receiving the Murphy-Hornidge Black Lives Matter Scholarship. “I feel like I’m not just an outlier. I feel that they care about my future as well, and the color of my skin does not block that.”

The scholarship is one of several new awards thanks to generous donors who have recently contributed a combined $650,000.

The Paul Gaines, Sr., G’68 Scholars Award, recognizing the diversity-focused efforts of the late Bridgewater administrator, seeks to diversify the teaching workforce by supporting students of color who will become teachers and guidance counselors in Massachusetts gateway cities such as Brockton, Fall River, New Bedford, Taunton and Attleboro.

The Dr. Carolyn Petrosino Challenging Racial Bigotry and Strengthening Unity Scholarship, honoring the criminal justice professor emerita and co-chair of the university’s Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice, supports students who work on improving cross-racial understanding and racial justice.

Lynn was chosen by BSU for the Black Lives Matter Scholarship, which recognizes the contributions of Trustee Ned Murphy and his wife, Ann-Ellen Hornidge, and family.

“We were motivated to create the scholarship by this year’s repeated lessons about how poorly our society has done in creating sufficient opportunities for Black Americans,” Hornidge said. “Our family wanted to share the benefits we’ve had with members of our community who need help.”

They seek to support the upward economic and social mobility of underrepresented groups by fostering a debt-free education.

“We hope that the chance to get a higher education degree without the burden of debt will allow Lynn to pursue her career aspirations and will have a positive ripple effect on her family and others,” Dr. Murphy said. “As a trustee of BSU, I know that it is well positioned to nurture the dreams of all of its students and to support the changes our society needs.”

The fundraising and new scholarships come as the campus and country reckon with racial justice.

“I think it is critically important because education is the great equalizer,” Interim Chief Development Officer Ellen Cuttle Oliver, ’82, G’89, said of the new scholarships. “It’s really important to be able to support these young people as they start on their academic careers and help them in any way possible to be successful.”

Lynn is enthralled by her classes, which let her explore new subjects such as philosophy. She is considering majoring in management or marketing, and looks forward to becoming involved on campus, including possibly joining a sorority.

She thanked donors for being a “positive domino,” i.e. helping set in motion for her many impactful things.

“I’m so grateful to have received a scholarship,” Lynn said. “I hope they really recognize how much of a difference this makes in our lives and how we’ll be able to pay it forward in the future.”

Do you have a BSU story you'd like to share? Email stories@bridgew.edu.