Memphis Student Trinity McKinney Awarded Scholarship to Spelman

By Ashley Benkarski 

NASHVILLE, TN — Outstanding Memphis student Trinity McKinney is one of five Spelman first-years to be awarded the inaugural Morgan Stanley HBCU Scholars Program, the firm reported.

Now, she can focus on her future instead of struggling to work enough hours to live or pay back student loans.

“This means opportunity to grow as a person and more opportunities for Black people at HBCUs,” McKinney said.

The initiative was developed by the newly-established Institute for Inclusion, part of a larger mission to create an integrated, holistic and transparent diversity and inclusion strategy both internally and externally, the firm continued. The program is providing full-ride scholarships for 60 students over four years to three HBCUs and will begin this fall. 

“We know that income inequality in the African American community often creates a barrier between the best and brightest students and their college education,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., President of Spelman. “Through this generous scholarship our students will have the opportunity to focus on their studies and future careers without the burden of financial debt.”  

From volunteers at local hospitals to talented musicians, the five students selected for the program at Spelman possess impressive resumes that include internships, community service projects and academic achievements.

McKinney plans to study nursing and is considering business administration with a goal to open a clinic in her hometown specializing in Black women’s health. For her, it’s a calling — some family members were discriminated against or their health concerns ignored because of the color of their skin, she said.

“I’m in a very fortunate situation,” McKinney said. “I’m very grateful to go to Spelman and be with other Black women. This scholarship means a lot to me because I know that Spelman has been one of the top schools.”

Located in Atlanta, Spelman was founded in 1881 and is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent and is the nation’s leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.Ds in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Spelman also offers a program to increase the number of Black women Ph.D.s in economics and is designated by the Department of Defense as a Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM.

New majors such as documentary filmmaking and photography were added and partnerships have been established with MIT’s Media Lab, the Broad Institute and the Army Research Lab for artificial intelligence and machine learning, Spelman representatives said.

Its status is confirmed by U.S. News & World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 54 among all liberal arts colleges, No. 19 for undergraduate teaching, No. 4 for social mobility among liberal arts colleges, and No. 1 for the 14th year among HBCUs, the college said. 

The Scholars program is also implementing programming for career preparedness that includes Morgan Stanley mentors and sponsors for support. Related programming will be offered to the scholars and broader student body and faculty, including virtual and on-site components to complement the on-campus curriculum, the firm said. 

“Educational attainment is a key focus area for our Institute for Inclusion, which includes investing in the institutions, such as Spelman, that contribute to diversifying the talent pipeline entering the workforce,” said Susan Reid, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Morgan Stanley and Director of the Institute for Inclusion.

The 2021 class of Howard University and Morehouse College scholars are listed at morganstanley.com under the Media Relations tab.

Morgan Stanley’s website quoted Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick as saying “HBCUs are an essential part of the fabric of higher education because of the contribution they make to diversifying so many fields,” he said, adding, “It’s a danger to the national interest not to invest in these institutions.” 

“Take the leap of faith,” McKinney advised students. “I understand the financial barriers that may be put on you, but overall it would be worth it. It will take time but it will be worth it in the end.”

For more about the participating HBCUs visit Spelman College, Howard University, and Morehouse College.