In 2005, Hurricane Katrina uprooted Tr’Vel Lyon from New Orleans to Los Angeles.
The traumatic move began a new chapter in the displaced youngster’s life and included a surprising parental order.
“They told me you’re now in Los Angeles. Second thing you need to know is you love UCLA and hate USC,” said Tr’Vel, a Gates Millennium Scholar who plans to receive a Ph.D. in educational policy. “My parents love the fact that I’m a diehard UCLA Bruin. They’re so proud.”
As a recipient of the Gates Millenium Scholarship through the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization, Tr’Vel is on track to fulfill his dream. Through UNCF, thousands of underrepresented students across the U.S., who couldn’t afford to attend college, are able to receive college degrees at UNCF-member institutions thanks to financial assistance that includes UNCF scholarships and internships.
“I’ve lightened the burden on my family,” said Tr’Vel. “Through UNCF, I feel I don’t have a barrier to my education and what I want to do with my life. UNCF is helping me finance my dream.”
Tr’Vel was one of the student scholars who recently attended the third annual UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball in Los Angeles recently where Ted Craver, chairman, president and CEO of Edison International, was honored for his commitment to education.
Under Craver’s leadership, Edison International has invested nearly $500,000 since 2004 to Los Angeles’ UNCF work. In addition, Edison International contributed $11.2 million to support education programs and scholarships to assist underrepresented students pursuing degrees in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields in 2013.
“That has been the focus of our educational efforts, our philanthropic efforts, for many, many years now,” said Craver. “We get involved with the community, get involved with high schools, get involved with state universities, community colleges. We’re obviously getting involved with UNCF as a true partner in trying to extend STEM education to all of the employees that will hopefully be a part of Edison, as well as all the communities we serve.”
Dr. Michael L. Lomax, UNCF’s president and CEO, praised Craver and Edison International for investing in America’s future by helping students get to and through college via organizations like UNCF. UNCF provides financial assistance to 37 private, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and awards 10,000 scholarships and internships to students from low- and moderate-income families to attend more than 900 colleges and universities across the country.
“Edison International is a valued UNCF partner and shares our goal of expanding access to a college education,” said Lomax. “Ted Craver’s commitment to his company is matched by his commitment to UNCF and the students we serve and the education we help to provide.”
Though he acknowledged the accolades, Craver bestowed the evening’s honor and recognition to “Edison and our employees at Edison.”
He then extended special praise to Tarrance Frierson, SCE senior contract program manager, Supplier Diversity, and past president of the Networkers Employee Resource Group. Craver credited Frierson’s passion and commitment to UNCF and for SCE employee’s generous UNCF contributions and participation in their annual walk for education.
“This award really belongs to you,” Craver told Frierson, seated in the audience.
Monique McGhee, the recipient of three UNCF scholarships, said she wouldn’t have a college education were it not for UNCF’s "Campaign for Emergency Student Aid" financial support.
“Donors’ money definitely makes a difference,” said the USC scholar who plans to work in nonprofit management and “change the world.”
“None of this would have taken place had it not been for those people who took out their checkbooks and said, ‘I’m going to give to someone I don’t even know.’ I’m grateful for those people who care about the mission and who care about the next generation, even if it doesn’t personally impact them,” said Monique.
Akeallah Blair, a UNCF "Gates Millenium Scholar," now a USC sophomore majoring in filmmaking, agrees.
“It’s important for companies like Edison International to partner with UNCF to grant scholarships and opportunities to people like me because I wouldn’t have been able to attend any type of college at all,” she said.