Southern U. Senior Launches Scholarship With Her Own Money
By Norman J. Dotson Jr. -- Black College Wire   

Many college students dream of one day becoming big-money donors, lavishing their alma maters with boatloads of cash and scholarships.

One Southern University student did not wait long to give back to her school. Mercy Ukpolo, the current Miss College of Business, used money generated by herself and her mother to give the first Mercy Ukpolo College of Business Scholars scholarship.

The Southern Digest
Ukpolo, right, with Forbes
The 21-year-old senior business management major presented junior accounting major Ashlee Forbes with the first scholarship on Nov. 20. The scholarship is a book scholarship to help business students by the necessary books and supplies for the year.

“I am humbled to have been able to give my scholarship to such a deserving student,” Ukpolo said. “I plan on continuing to give back to SU for many years to come.”

Ukpolo recalled how the scholarship began. She said saved money for months and stashed away $350 before telling her mother, Dr. Fawn Ukpolo, what she wanted to do with the money. Her mother told her that she would match the money already saved up if she was serious about starting a scholarship fund.

The Ukpolos pooled together $700 for the fund.

 “I started the Mercy Ukpolo ‘COB Scholars’ scholarship because God has continued to bless me and it was my time to give back,” she said.

The drive to help other students came from Ukpolo’s background. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Ukpolo came to the United States at the age of six. She said she worked hard to learn English upon arriving in the states.

“Education has been my number one priority because I am a huge advocate for high scholastic efforts in every arena in life,” Ukpolo said. “Therefore I want to help students who are just as dedicated to achievement as I am.”

Ukpolo earned scholarships from organizations such as the United Negro College Fund, NAACP and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

She plans to earn a doctoral degree before she turns 26, Ukpolo said, and plans to continue to give back to Southern and her homeland. Other future plans include starting a tutoring company, writing children’s books, starting a charity and possibly starring in her own cooking show.

And those dreams of becoming a big-money donor? Ukpolo said she hopes to become ExxonMobil’s first black chief executive officer and continue giving back to her scholarship fund.

Norman J. Dotson Jr.  is editor-in-chief of the Southern Digest,  the Southern University Baton Rouge student newspaper, which originally published this article.

Posted Dec. 10, 2009