By Emmanuel Freeman
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — Dominique Davis always thought that making good grades would be her pass to free college education. She was right! Davis will not have to worry about fees for the rest of her college career.
On July 18, Davis, a TSU sophomore business administration major, received a $75,000 scholarship offer from Toyota through the Jesse Jackson Rainbow PUSH Excel program.
“I am pleased to inform you that you have been selected as a new Jesse Jackson Fellows Scholar and are being awarded a $25,000 scholarship for the 2018-2019 academic year,” a letter from PUSH said. The scholarship is renewable each year for a maximum of three years.
“I am so excited; this is unbelievable,” said Davis, who is from Danville, Illinois. “I have been praying for this and it finally came through.”
Davis is one of only 10 students from a group of 20 semi-finalists to be selected for the scholarship made possible through a partnership between Toyota and Rainbow PUSH Excel. Applicants must be engineering or business majors, have a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average, with demonstrated participation in community service, and must show need for financial assistance.
As part of the scholarship, Toyota offers successful applicants the opportunity to work at one of their facilities across North America to gain valuable real-world experience, as well as be paired with mentors from Toyota management to help guide the students through the next three years of college. Davis is currently an intern with Nissan in Nashville.
Davis, who has a 3.8 GPA with a concentration in supply chain management, said a family member told her about the scholarship program.
“I immediately said this is a great opportunity,” Davis said. “So I filled out the application and sent it in. I got a call back to go the next step, which included an interview with Toyota. I passed the application phase with the Jesse Jackson committee. I got another call back. And I got the scholarship.”
The third of four children, Davis said from elementary school she always made all A’s.
“Coming out of high school my GPA was great. I told my parents we are not going to pay for college,” Davis said, but her plan did not quite materialize the first year. Although she could have received a full ride to any college in Illinois, Davis said she chose TSU, out of state. As a result, funds she received were not enough to cover her full out-of-state fees.
“We had to take out a loan in my freshman year, and that was hard because my sister had just graduated from the University of Illinois-Champaign, and my parents were stretched,” she said.
Davis said she chose TSU because of the HBCU experience. All through elementary to high school, she had attended predominantly white schools.
“I wanted to attend an HBCU,” said Davis, who credits her parents and her late grandfather for the motivation to do well. “I wanted to get a feel of the culture and Tennessee State felt like home. It felt like the right move to come here. It has been a great experience.”
Davis’ goal is to own a charter school.
“I want to start my own charter school to help kids and make sure they have opportunities that so many other kids may not have,” she said.