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Holmes Hall MyMorgan Awards

Morgan Scholars Recognized Nationally Receiving Esteemed Fellowships and Scholarship Awards

by Morgan State U
September 07, 2023

Awarding Organizations Include White House HBCU Initiative, Obama Foundation, Kirchner Foundation and the William & Lanaea C. Featherstone Foundation


Several exceptional Morgan State University students have earned national recognition distinctions to mark the beginning of the fall 2023 academic year. These scholars are shining examples of Morgan's commitment to fostering excellence, as they embark on prestigious fellowships that promise to enrich their academic journey, receive invaluable experiences, and benefit from scholarships supporting their matriculation here at the National Treasure. This collection of scholars will represent Morgan on a grand stage underscoring the ambition, intellectual curiosity, and academic achievement of Morgan's diverse student body.                                                                                                          

 “We are immensely proud of these scholars and their remarkable achievements,” said Hongtao Yu, provost and senior vice president of Academic Affairs at Morgan. “Their selection for these esteemed fellowships is a testament to the caliber of students we cultivate here at Morgan.”

Micheline Sonkro Awarded the Obama Foundation Voyager Scholarship

Micheline SonkroFostering leaders who are committed to addressing the needs and solving the challenges of an increasingly globalized and modern world is at the heart of the Voyager Scholarship for Public Service initiative. Created by President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, along with Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb, the Voyager Scholarship recognizes young leaders who demonstrate the ability to bridge divides and address significant challenges through public service. Morgan’s campus is teeming with young leaders, so there’s no surprise a Morgan scholar would be among the 100 college juniors earning this highly coveted distinction.

Micheline Sonkro, a Psychology major representing the James H. Gilliam, Jr. College of Liberal Arts (CLA), was recently named to the second cohort of Voyager Scholarship recipients. Passionate about spreading awareness regarding mental health disorders and ensuring equitable access to mental health care, Sonkro will participate in the two-year program that will offer a transformational combination of barrier-reducing financial aid, an immersive work-travel experience, and access to a robust network of Obama Foundation leaders and mentors.

“Michelle and I can’t wait to work with these talented young people over the next few years as they pursue careers in public service,” said President Obama. “Their dedication to public service and their determination to solve global challenges inspire hope for a brighter future. We know that this scholarship will not only change their lives, but the world.”

The Voyager Scholarship will provide Sonkro with up to $50,000 in financial aid, a summer work-travel experience, and access to professional resources that will collectively inspire, empower, and catapult her journey toward meaningful public service.

Zaire Dartez Named 2023-2024 Kirchner HBCU Fellow

Zaire DartezZaire Dartez, an advanced degree candidate in the Graves School of Business and Management MBA program, has been selected as one of the 2023-2024 Kirchner HBCU Fellows, a prestigious program designed to promote diversity within the venture capital industry and empower HBCU students to become agriculture technology venture capitalists. Dartez, a former Stanford University Innovations Fellow, brings her passion for impact investing, edtech, and regenerative agriculture to this year’s cohort.

Dartez has already demonstrated her commitment to shaping a better future through her participation in renowned programs such as the Turner MIINT Competition and the HBCUvc Fellowship. Her selection as a Kirchner HBCU Fellow reflects her dedication to making a lasting impact on global food challenges.

Hattie Brown, co-manager of the Kirchner Impact Foundation, commented, “The third year of our program introduces an incredibly talented group of fellows attending HBCUs across the country. These new collaborations allow us to expand our reach and engage with a diversity of institutions, underscoring the significance of HBCUs in addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education.”

Designed to strengthen impact investing and venture capital in underserved capital market communities, the Kirchner HBCU Fellowship program trains and empowers a diverse next generation of investors to allocate equity investments into early-stage companies. Marking its third year of successfully seeding newly-formed investment teams, the Kirchner Impact Foundation and the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR), the chief architects of the HBCU fellowship program, employ a “real world, real-time, real money” model to transform fellows into effective capital allocators in a matter of months. Dartez is Morgan’s second Kirchner HBCU Fellow following Martin Adu-Boahene, a fellow within the inaugural cohort and Morgan Spring 2023 graduate in Information Systems.

Dariyah Pennix Recognized as a 2023 White House HBCU Scholar

Dariyah PennixThe White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities recently announced its ninth cohort of HBCU Scholars, recognizing 102 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from 29 different states and countries for their accomplishments in academics, leadership, civic engagement and much more.  This highly coveted cohort of HBCU scholars brings together representatives from that nation’s top institutions—Morgan included.

 Dariyah Pennix, a Louisville, Kentucky native majoring in Construction Management with a minor in Business Administration, will be representing the National Treasure as a member of the 2023 HBCU Scholars cohort. Selected from a competitive pool of more than 300 applicants, Pennix’s designation reflects her dedication to excellence and inclusion, embodying the values championed by Morgan.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona commended Pennix and her fellow scholars while sharing the following, “Our 2023 HBCU Scholars are talented students who embody the culture of excellence and inclusion championed by our nation's Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”

“On behalf of the U.S. Department of Education and everyone across the Biden-Harris Administration, I congratulate each of our 2023 HBCU scholars on this prestigious recognition and thank them for their commitment to serving their communities. I’m thrilled to see the HBCU Scholars program continue to expand its reach and provide such exciting professional development, networking, and educational opportunities to some of our nation’s brightest and most promising young leaders,” Cardona said.

Over the course of an academic school year, HBCU Scholars will serve as ambassadors of the White House Initiative on HBCUs, the U.S. Department of Education, and their respective HBCU. Furthering the mission to Raise the Bar, students in this program are encouraged to lift their communities, unite others around student success, work to strengthen our democracy and grow our economy. HBCU Scholars will be offered professional and personal development, and cross-university networking opportunities with an opportunity to explore, discuss, and improve issues specifically related to the HBCU community.

As part of this recognition, Pennix will also be invited to the 2023 HBCU Week National Annual Conference on September 24–28, 2023, where she will have the opportunity to engage in professional development, networking, and educational sessions.

Featherston ScholarsMorgan Students Awarded Featherstone Scholarships Furthering Their Academic Pursuits

Rooted in creating pathways of equal access to underserved communities, The William & Lanaea C. Featherstone Foundation has been at the forefront of supporting immigrant families and empowering first-generation students toward matriculation, academic success, and degree attainment. At the recent annual Featherstone Awards Ceremony, five exceptional Morgan scholars were among the 30 Baltimore-area students honored for their promise and academic achievement. Each awardee received a $3,000 Featherstone College Scholarship. Listed below are the 2023 Featherston HBCU scholarship recipients from Morgan: 

  • Abisola Arowolaju, a native of Nigeria, is a junior Computer Science major.
  • Clyde Baidoo, Jr., a native of Ghana and sophmore, is pursuing a degree in Computer Science.
  • Iyana Grossis a senior pursuing a B.S. in Biology with a double minor in Chemistry and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.
  • Desiree Lane, a rising senior, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. This award marks her second as a Featherstone scholar.
  • Michelle Nkrumah-Boateng, a native of Ghana and junior from the Clara I. Adams Honors College, is currently pursuing a degree in Information Science and Systems.
  • Ekei Obu, a native of Nigeria, is an incoming freshman pursuing a career in journalism within the School of Global Journalism and Communication.

Morgan State University is proud to celebrate the achievements of Micheline Sonkro, Zaire Dartez, Dariyah Pennix, Abisola Arowolaju, Clyde Baidoo, Jr., Iyana Gross, Desiree Lane, Michelle Nkrumah-Boateng, and Ekei Obu as they continue to excel academically and make significant contributions to their respective fields. These accomplishments exemplify the commitment to excellence that is at the heart of Morgan’s mission and ascendency!