Jersey City resident Azalee Banks receives CIC/UPS Scholarship, which recognizes outstanding student achievement and is administered through the Independent College Fund of New Jersey.
HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Warren County) – A surprise awaited Centenary University student Azalee Banks when she reported to a recent meeting with her Educational Opportunity Program adviser, Eunice Boyd: a giant scholarship check. Boyd, who is the assistant director of Centenary’s Educational Opportunity Program, had nominated Banks for the CIC/UPS Scholarship and arranged for the presentation of the symbolic over-sized check.
“I was shocked,” said Banks, a junior from Jersey City who is majoring in fashion design at Centenary. She added that the $3,000 scholarship “made me feel so special and loved.”
Administered through the Independent College Fund of New Jersey, the scholarship awarded by the UPS Foundation recognizes undergraduates with a strong academic record who demonstrate financial need and are first generation college students, from a minority group, or are new Americans. “I nominated Ms. Banks not only because she is the ideal candidate for the scholarship, but also because she exemplifies a positive role model for her peers by having balance in her college experience,” said Boyd. “She works hard on her academics and also makes a point to be a leader on campus and have fun, too.”
A graduate of Henry Snyder High School in Jersey City, Banks developed a love of fashion design during her freshman year of high school. But when her first teacher left the school, Banks’ plans to seek a college degree in fashion were temporarily sidelined. “I wasn’t planning on going to college after that,” Banks said, adding that a new teacher, Rebecca Posey, later changed her mind. “Ms. Posey really influenced me to go to college. Her classes made me feel ready for college and the real world.”
Banks first visited Centenary with her high school program to attend the University’s annual fashion show, which that year featured appearances by two Henry Snyder High School alumnae. Impressed with the quality of the fashion program, Banks decided to arrange a campus visit and ultimately applied to Centenary.
Since arriving on campus two years ago, Banks has become involved in a variety of campus activities. A member of Alpha Theta Psi sorority, she has served as secretary of The House of Fashion, a club that encourages students to express themselves through the art of fashion. She is also a member of the volleyball team and Chi Alpha Epsilon, the Educational Opportunity Program honor society, and has worked at the University’s Welcome Center.
The Educational Opportunity Program has made a big difference to Banks, who became involved during her sophomore year. The program provides under-served students with academic, social, and financial support to earn a college degree and begin a successful career. “The Educational Opportunity Program is amazing,” said Banks, pointing to support provided by Boyd and Assistant Dean of Diversity and Educational Opportunity Program Director Devon Vialva. “They help so much with issues about classes, but we also talk about personal and financial topics.”
With graduation less than 18 months away, Banks envisions a career designing the latest fashions: “I’d like to work for a designer for big brands. Someday, maybe I’ll go solo and design for big celebrities.”