Freshman at Fairfield University awarded The William and Melinda Gates Millennium scholarship


Jamar Paris thought he'd be eliminated from consideration for a Gates Millennium scholarship before one judge took a look at his application. That's because an overloaded computer server prevented the Bridgeport student, then a senior at Harding High School, from submitting his application on time.

Apparently more than a few students had the same approach as Paris - a last-minute attempt to e-mail the application.

"The server was overloaded," Paris said with a smile. Luckily for Paris, the judges must have recognized the technological problem. Just a few weeks ago, Paris was informed that he had indeed been selected as one of only 1,000 students nationwide to receive the scholarship this year. The scholarship, which is for minority students with significant financial need, pays for all the costs of attending college that are not covered by the student's financial aid package - for four years.

The scholarships are administered by the United Negro College Fund in conjunction with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the American Indian Graduate Center of Scholars and the Organization of Chinese Americans. Students are judged based upon academic achievement, community service and leadership potential as well as financial eligibility.

It was Kevin O'Connell, former project coordinator for Fairfield University's Upward Bound program, who encouraged Paris to apply and assisted him through the process. Upward Bound is a federally funded "TRIO" program for low-income and/or first generation college students.

Paris is the second TRIO recipient of the Gates Scholarship and the third Fairfield University student. Kevin Bennett, a former Talent Search student and Fairfield University graduate in May 2002, received the scholarship, along with Aisha Seyal, who also graduated last May.

Dr. Georgia Day, assistant academic vice president for TRIO programs stated: "Jamar is a role model for other students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. He is a young man who has a vision and strives to be all that he can be. I'm delighted to know that he has chosen to matriculate at Fairfield University."

Fairfield University is host to three different TRIO programs, which are sponsored by the United States Department of Education. These programs are available to eligible students in the target areas of service. Project Excel works with Fairfield University students, while Upward Bound and Talent Search work with students in the City of Bridgeport.

Upward Bound works with students ages 13-19 in the Bridgeport Public High Schools to strengthen the academic, intellectual, and social skills they'll need for entrance to, and graduation from, college. It is one of three programs at Fairfield, collectively known as TRIO.

The foundation of the Upward Bound program begins with academic courses in mathematics, sciences, computer literacy, English, history, and foreign languages, to help students successfully complete their high school classes and prepare them for higher education. In addition, a number of cultural, recreational and informational events are provided to supplement the learning process. The program includes both an academic year and a summer residential component. During the academic year, classes are held on Saturdays at Fairfield University. During the summer session, students live in the dormitories and attend classes on the campus of Fairfield University for six weeks.

Paris had been involved with Upward Bound since his sophomore year at Harding. He is also a recipient of the State of Connecticut's Gear-Up scholarship for $2,500.

"He is just a prepared, well-rounded student," said Patrick David, academic counselor with Upward Bound, noting that Paris had good grades and high SAT scores.

Paris plans to major in accounting at Fairfield.

"It has a good school of business," Paris said of Fairfield, noting that the School of Business has been accredited by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the leading accrediting agency for programs in business administration and accounting.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on August 10, 2002

Vol. 35, No. 43