Eric Jerome Brown, Northeast High School, Pasadena
Reggie Clyburn, Parkdale High School, Landover
Chester Hedgepeth, III, Parkside High School, Salisbury
All are black, male, and were among the best and the brightest in their high school class — and all, along with seven others with similar credentials, are now Meyerhoff Scholars studying mathematics, science or engineering at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
The Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Foundation Scholarship program grew out of a recognition by Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, III, Vice Provost of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, that black males were a noticeably small and even declining percentage of college enrollment, and in particular, in the fields of math, science and medical studies. “Black men,” according to Dr. Hrabowski, “are under-represented in the sciences, and few earn doctorates. The imbalance exists because young black men, who have few black professionals as role models, tend not to perceive themselves as being able to achieve these goals.” The Meyerhoff scholarship program, providing UMBC with $522,000, has been designed to help redress the balance.
The program started in the summer of 1989, and the students have had less than a full school year behind them. Still, according to Susan Boyer, Director of Academic Outreach and Coordinator of the program, “The students are doing very well both academically and in the social context. They fit in on campus. They’ve made serious friendships with each other during the summer orientation program, and I believe this bonding is a plus — the support it provides is important.
“Academically, the facts speak for themselves: out of the ten, four got 4.0 — straight A’s and the mean gradepoint average for the fall semester was 3.67. And — we had no dropouts.
“A particularly healthy sign, and I believe a measure of how much the students value the program, is their strong interest, stated to us clearly: they want to share in the development of the program.
“We think we are helping to create a small cadre of black, male scientists and engineers whose growing numbers will start moving the figures on their presence, on campus and later in the larger community, the other way.”
The Abell Foundation, committed as it is to the economic development of the region and to serving the under served within it, joins the community in its appreciation of the Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Foundation for identifying the particular problem of this adversely shifting balance in Ameri can education, and for efforts to redress it.