On Wednesday, the Propel Center went live with HBCU Buzz on Instagram to inform the masses about their $1,000,000 scholarship fund and the awarded HBCU scholars. 

FAMU alum and Revolt TV contributor, Brianna Harmon hosted the IG Live alongside Dr. Charles J. Gibbs, president of the Propel Center HBCU Consortium. The triple Howard Alum and member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. discussed the impact and benefits of the 2022 Student Impact Scholarship.

The scholarship fund was created by the Propel Center in collaboration with Apple and Southern Company, to whom Gibbs made a shoutout to, thanking the two companies for supporting the scholarship. 

Each student will receive a $10,000 academic scholarship for the Fall 2022 semester and the opportunity to participate in highly coveted work-based learning experiences.

Dr. Gibbs states that the key to the program is making sure each student is prepared and possesses the necessary skills to enter a global, diverse workforce after graduation, which will support building the Black talent pipeline. “I don’t subscribe to the notion that there’s no talent, that there’s no one to do the job. Well then you haven’t visited an HBCU because we are in a hotbed of culture creators, innovators, world thinkers, problem solvers and we get it done,” said Gibbs. 

At Propel we don’t compete, we complete.

– Dr. Charles J. Gibbs, president of the Propel Center HBCU Consortium

Students from over thirty HBCUs were selected as recipients of the scholarship program; four of whom joined the live to discuss what the scholarship means to them. 

Sanaa Rowser, a sophomore English major with a minor in film and visual culture at Spelman College, and Zuri Williams, an Xavier University student majoring in public health science with a minor in chemistry were the first two students to join the live.

Sanaa Rowser says Propel helped her discover her passion for journalism through an opportunity to attend The John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation Inaugural Gala as a Propel Ambassador back in May. This event was conceived to honor Congressman John Lewis and his wife’s enduring legacies around civic engagement and social justice. 

“Propel has given people the ability to see places that they didn’t think they would ever be seen, so I think that it’s not just about getting to the table but it’s about owning the table, it’s about asserting yourself at the table.” 

– 2022 Propel Scholarship Recipient, Sanaa Rowser

According to Rowser, Propel encourages its scholars to have the assertiveness and confidence to dominate any room they walk into. “Propel hasn’t just given me money…Propel has truly shown me what it means to be a leader.”

Rowser’s advice to future Propel scholars is to just be yourself because “every room needs a you.” 

Zuri Williams says she applied for the Propel scholarship because “both of our purposes align.” 

She cites the lack of representation of black health care workers, the disparities in black women’s health, and the lack of resources available for marginalized communities as the reason she chose to major in public health.

For Williams, this scholarship will help her be a part of the representation she wants to see in the medical field. “Outside of the investment into my education going into the medical field, it’s going to help me uplift and set the standard for what is supposed to be with black excellence.”

The next two guests that joined the live show were Julian Ross, a senior music major at  Morris Brown College, and Jeremiah Armstead, a freshman studying kinesiology at Fisk University. 

Julian Ross shared that he wanted to attend an HBCU because of the “amount of nurturing and the amount of care that was put in us by our own people.”

The young scholar currently serves as the Student Government Association President for Morris Brown College. He says one of the reasons he applied for the Propel scholarship is to lead by example for the student body to be steadfast and diligent about their education. 

“My big thing is each one, teach one. You always reach behind and bring the next person up and that’s what Propel’s done for me.” 

– 2022 Propel Scholarship Recipient, Julian Ross

Ross is not only a Propel Scholar but also a Propel Ambassador. Like Rowser, he attended The John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation Inaugural Gala and got the opportunity to be the announcer for the event alongside Emmy award-winning actress Alfre Woodard. As a music producer, he says he was grateful to attend an event that was also attended by actor and rapper, Common. Propel puts you in rooms that are geared toward your career aspirations. 

Ross wants to work at a record label and says that the scholarship will help him reach his goals immensely.

Lastly, Jeremiah Armstead took a moment to share his story which recently circulated in the news. Armstead shared that after coming to California, from his freshman to senior year he experienced homelessness with his family, and lived in between their car and hotels. “I’m six-five, being that tall, being in a car, I had to crunch up or make space for my siblings so that was a struggle.”

Armstead added that Propel’s support has been amazing, “I never had anything like that, my support my whole life was my mom, brother and sister, now that I have other people that can build me up…that’s really big for me.” 

For J. Armstead, Propel will help him fulfill his goal of leaving a legacy behind for his family. He offers words of encouragement for anyone who has been in a similar situation to not give up. “God doesn’t put any obstacles in life that you can’t overcome.” 

Next on the agenda for Propel is taking fifteen scholars to Washington, D.C. to participate in HBCU Week at the White House. 
For students interested in applying for the scholarship, Dr. Gibbs notes they are anticipating opening the application process again in the spring for the second cohort of scholars. Dr. Gibbs advises students to follow Propel on social media and tag them at @propelcenter for updates on when the next scholarship application period opens or if interested in becoming a Propel ambassador.