This year, the George Washington University marks twenty-five years since the inception of the Stephen Joel Trachtenberg (SJT) Scholars program. The scholarship is one of the university’s most prestigious awards for incoming freshmen, and proudly celebrates the legacy of more than 150 scholars and over 16 million dollars awarded throughout the life of the program.
Created in 1989 as the GW 21st Century DC Scholars, the program was designed to attract talented students from the District of Columbia high schools to George Washington University. It was renamed in 1999 by the Board of Trustees to honor President Emeritus Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s decade of service to the university.
The SJT Scholars program covers tuition, room, board, books, and university fees for exceptional students in the District of Columbia for four years. Each year high school counselors, who take into account the student’s performance on college entrance exams, overall academic profile, community service involvement, leadership ability, and extracurricular activities, nominate potential scholars. A representative from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions interviews the nominees and a committee of university administrators reviews their applications.
“The Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholars family prides itself on academic excellence, cultural awareness, spiritual growth, leadership, accountability, integrity, and community service,” said Associate Director of the Multicultural Student Services Center George Rice. “Through programmatic efforts, discussions, academic support meetings, and social events, the scholars cultivate strong and productive relationships with each other and the staff who support them. Our staff consistently challenge and encourage the scholars so they can discover their passion and purpose.”
Rice works directly with each scholar, leading their monthly general body meetings and advising the freshman scholars weekly. Along with Rice and his staff, a variety of University faculty and staff members also contribute to the overall execution and success of the program.
Once on campus, scholarship recipients are expected to continue their commitment to academic scholarship, civic involvement, and leadership activities. The scholars complete yearly community service projects and are frequently represented on student organization executive boards and the Dean’s List, in addition to successfully competing for other positions of distinction on and off campus.
“When you first arrive on campus as an SJT Scholar, [university faculty and staff] set an expectation that you’re an ambassador and a representation of the best DC has to offer,” said Sarai Reed, a rising SJT senior majoring in English. Reed, a member of the English Department’s combined-degree program, will receive her B.A. in the spring of 2015 and M.A. in 2016.
China Green of Friendship Collegiate Academy, Tai’Lon Jackson of Ballou High School, Minh-Hong Nguyen of Capital City Public Charter School, and Llewellyn Richie of KIPP DC College Preparatory School are enrolling this fall as the newest SJT scholars.
“This scholarship means hope,” said Richie, who graduated as the president of his school’s National Honor Society chapter. “Hope for a better future not only for me, but for my family and other supporters. When you grow up in an unstructured community, you seem to be blind to the numerous opportunities in front of you, especially in D.C. Now that I have a chance to explore a fantastic university, I know that the possibilities are limitless.”