Contact: Brittney Dabney, Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing
A pair of Tuskegee University students were among the recipients of the McDonald’s Black & Positively Golden Scholarship. The scholarship is part of the latest news from McDonald’s to help students attending HBCUs continue their education this fall, despite impacts of COVID-19. Facilitated by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), each of the 34 students were awarded $15,000 to be distributed for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Freshman food and nutritional science student Kynidi Luster is among the scholarship winners. Luster hopes to obtain her bachelor’s degree and then attend medical school to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a pediatrician.
“This scholarship has allowed me to cancel my student loans in order to stay debt free, especially during my first year of college, said Luster. “This has given me more momentum and it has encouraged me to keep applying for scholarships and excelling in my schoolwork in order to stay debt free throughout my undergraduate education.”
The Birmingham, Alabama native says before deciding on a college she has always been reminded of the nostalgic feelings of Tuskegee University. “Whenever I would attend to homecomings, open houses or even just moving my sister into her dorm, I never felt out of place.”
Luster says so it is no surprise that Mother Tuskegee chose her, and she wants to make her experience worthwhile.
“I felt the love of Mother Tuskegee before being accepted as a student and I knew without a doubt Tuskegee was the place for me.” “I have learned how to become one step ahead in everything and I’ve been taught the value of being patient and the importance of time.”
She says the partnership with McDonald’s truly exemplifies the company’s commitment to investing in HBCUs and supporting their students.
“To know that you have support from a group of people that you have never met, but somehow, they seem like family, is so amazing. It encourages me to keep pushing towards my dreams on the hard days, when I feel like I’m not making any progress. I have truly been blessed to have this opportunity and it is one that I will remember for a lifetime.”
In addition, Erin Lyke was the second recipient from Tuskegee University to be awarded. Lyke a native of Chicago, Illinois is majoring in accounting. She says after graduation, she hopes to go back into her community to teach financial literacy as a wealth management associate at BMO Harris Bank in Chicago.
“Financial literacy is something that has been swept under the rug for generations. People would rather buy a pair of $300 shoes than invest $300 in the stock market.” “I want to dedicate myself to breaking the generation curses of poverty in my community, and this includes me and starting with my own finances,” explained Lyke.
“Growing up, I’ve personally felt the pains of student loan debt from my mother and I’ve always known that isn’t the path I wanted to take,” she recalled. “ I didn’t have the same advantages as other students when it came to applying for loans, so my GPA is what I’ve always heavily depended on.”
“At an early age, my mother instilled in me a love of learning and the importance of hard work and dedication. She taught me that you can take away all material things, but an education is forever. This is a life changing award that not only benefits me now, but also in the future.”
Lyke explained that for her attending an HBCU was a way for her to connect with her roots. “I went to a predominately white high school and became a reflection of what I saw,” she explained. “Whether I hated the texture of my hair or the complexion of my skin, Tuskegee has taught me to embrace it because within it is excellence. I’ve brought that same confidence to the workplace during internships and I’ve always received compliments on how well I carry myself.”
Lyke says HBCUs prepare you for the real world and instill in you the power of perseverance and patience.
“Tuskegee has also taught be to bring my authentic self in anything, being here is like a safe haven.”
In addition to providing the scholarship, McDonald’s also surprised each winner with a special delivery, which included a tablet, school supplies and congratulatory video, featuring notable HBCU alumni, such as Terrence J, Ashley Blaine Featherson, KJ Smith, Quad Webb and David Banner. The Black & Positively Golden Scholarship winners’ surprise is one of three initiatives McDonald’s launched this month – in partnership with TMCF, iHeartMedia and ESSENCE Girls United – to support HBCU students and alumni, as well as Black women entrepreneurs. The partnerships build on McDonald’s commitment to supporting and uplifting the Black community by providing mentorship opportunities, seed capital for entrepreneurs, and college scholarships.
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