Frontline Workers Scholarship launched to promote accessible education

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Photo Courtesy of oakland.edu

“I think it’s extremely important that we support these students and their families,” Aubry said. “Creating this award allows us to support frontline workers in completing their bachelor’s degree and achieving their dreams.”

Michael Pearce, Editor-In-Chief

The Frontline Workers Scholarship is a new initiative aimed to increase the amount of frontline workers with bachelor’s degrees.

“Those people who work selflessly providing essential services are an inspiration, and in many cases, profiles in courage,” President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz said in the official press release. “Their vital assistance in the fields of healthcare and public safety, among other essential industries, have been integral to sustaining our economy and communities.”

The $2,500 scholarship spread over two years is for any frontline workers who earned associate’s degrees at any of the “28 Michigan community colleges and transfer to Oakland University between summer 2021 and fall 2024,” according to the official press release.

“In these difficult days of the pandemic, we want to extend funding support and appreciation to the extraordinary efforts of frontline workers,” Pescovitz said in the press release. “We hope these scholarships provide vital financial support as they pursue their educational ambition.”

No grade point average (GPA) requirement is required to earn the scholarship, just having the associate’s degree with at least 62 credits and being accepted to Oakland University with at least 12 credits per semester.

The scholarship does require a minimum 2.0 GPA for renewal once the student attends OU.

“We at Oakland are very committed to college access, and we know how it’s so important to support frontline workers and encourage them to continue their education,” said Dawn Aubry, vice president for Enrollment Management.

This scholarship is an extension of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Futures for Frontliners” initiative. After Whitmer launched the initiative, university leadership discussed ways they could support frontline workers.

This initiative aligns with Whitmer’s goal of increasing the degree attainment percentage to 60% by 2030. 

The university enrollment team worked with the university scholarship and financial aid committee, Office of Institutional Research and Assessments and the finance and administration team to determine an appropriate amount for the scholarship. 

The $2,500 amount was determined after looking at the amount of money from donors and the projected amount of students who would apply for the scholarship at OU. 

“We have something called a future heroes campaign made specifically to help support transfer students,” Aubry said. “It really aligns perfectly with that fund we were already working on, and we’ve already successfully had donors contribute to this fund.”

According to Aubry, approximately 17% of transfer students nationally follow through with obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Aubry hopes the Frontline Workers Scholarship will increase that 17% number, leading to a higher bachelor’s degree completion rate at OU.

“We’re hoping the fact that these students will be receiving more funding, will allow them to have those funds available to help fund their master’s degree,” Aubry said. “So, we’re hoping to see a higher return rate than the typical 17%.”  

Aubry felt after the ten months of COVID-19 restrictions, it was important to recognize the frontline workers who haven’t had days off since the virus shut down the U.S.

“I think it’s extremely important that we support these students and their families,” Aubry said. “Creating this award allows us to support frontline workers in completing their bachelor’s degree and achieving their dreams.”