To Mrs. Ojiako, and the Zebralter foundation

I want to start by saying thank you to the Zebralter medical foundation once more for believing in and supporting me in my academic endeavors. Knowing that myself and others who look like me are being awarded and recognized by those who came before us that share the same identities means so much more than just monetary award. Seeing people with shared identities build bridges for current
students gives us as students a sense of responsibility and pride to provide and build these same bridges for the next generation of students. Having someone invest in you helps to reinforce and amplify the preexisting confidence that you have for yourself. Reflecting over what this scholarship has done for me

I can’t say thank you enough!
-Cedric Holmes
Accounting Major

“I am honored and excited to be a Black Alumni Zebralter 2023 Medical scholarship recipient. Receiving this award brings me one step closer to making an impact and those around me. The best way to be of service to your community is to pay forward the lessons you’ve learned, the success you’ve earned, and the wisdom that those before you have bestowed on to you.

– Sidney Opara-Justus, Class of 2026

This honor not only lightens my financial burden but also fills my heart with a deep sense of appreciation and motivation. The support of the Zebralter Medical Foundation award has been an indispensable asset as I embark on my journey towards becoming an ear, nose, and throat surgeon. I grew up in a modest household where pursuing higher education was often a distant aspiration due to financial constraints. The financial burden of medical school is particularly daunting, and your generous scholarship has relieved me of a significant portion of this weight. It allows me to focus more on my academics, engage in meaningful extracurricular activities, and ultimately prepare for medical school without the constant worry of how to finance my education.

One of the most significant advantages of this scholarship is the gift of time. As a student aspiring to become an ear, nose, and throat surgeon, I am well aware of the rigorous academic demands and the need for extensive hands-on experience such through extracurricular activities and clinical hours. This scholarship provides me with the opportunity to allocate more of my time to my studies and clinical experiences. I can dedicate myself wholeheartedly to my coursework and research, knowing that I have the support of Zebralter Medical to cover some of my educational expenses. Furthermore, the financial relief this scholarship offers allows me to save more effectively for medical school. The expenses associated with medical education are substantial, and Zebralter Medical’s support enables me to plan for my future with greater confidence. I can channel the funds I save into preparations for medical school, ensuring that I will have a solid foundation for this next phase of my educational journey.

Your commitment to fostering diversity in the medical field is both inspiring and essential. As an aspiring Black ear, nose, and throat surgeon, I am driven by a deep passion for medicine and the desire to make a meaningful impact on patients' lives. My goal is to contribute to the field of medicine by addressing health disparities and providing care to underserved communities. I firmly believe that diversity in the medical profession is a crucial step toward bridging healthcare disparities and improving patient outcomes. Zebralter Medical’s support will not only help me achieve my personal goals but will also enable me to give back to my community and serve those in need. Ultimately, I am committed to paying this generosity done unto me forward in becoming actively involved in initiatives that promote diversity in medicine, mentorship programs, and community outreach efforts. I want to be a source of inspiration for future generations of aspiring medical professionals, just as you have been for me. I am dedicated to creating opportunities for underrepresented individuals in the medical field, encouraging their pursuit of excellence, and supporting their aspirations.

I am grateful towards Zebralter Medical for believing in my potential and investing in my future. I will strive to make the most of this incredible opportunity and, in turn, make a positive impact on the world of medicine and the communities I serve.

Tweende Sinemani
Molecular and Cellular Biology major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Dear Dr. Ojiako and the Zebralter Medical Foundation,

First and foremost, I am honored to be a recipient of the Black Alumni Network
Scholarship at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign sponsored by the Zebralter Medical Foundation. I feel so special to be considered someone worthy enough to represent the future of African-American medical community. The Zebralter scholarship is not just a monetary endeavor for me; it honestly means so much more. It means being able to, at some point, share my passion for helping and teaching others about the importance of their health.

I come from a family that doesn’t always prioritize their health whether that be via a lack of exercise or maybe indulging in addictive behaviors. Subsequently, I’ve found it very important to emphasize to others what it means to be a healthy black individual while not compromising on the things they love and on the things that bring our community together. We as a collective must continue to push a healthy narrative throughout our spaces and support those who are willing to craft this message. Upon learning about this organization, I found that the individuals within the organization are not afraid to support those who are going to make a worthwhile contribution to the African-American community. I very much value that sort of initiative and look forward to being able to contribute to that in my future.

This scholarship not only allows me to finish out my college years with less financial stress and set me up for a successful future, but it also allows me to lead a more confident journey to my goals. It feels great to have my achievements acknowledged by an organization such as Zebralter Medical Foundation and it really makes me feel reassured. I would like to thank all those involved for this recognition and for the impact you all have made on students in the fields of science and medicine such as me.

Nia Adeogun (she/her)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | Class of 2026
College of Applied Health Sciences | Kinesiology
University of Illinois College of Liberal Arts and Sciences | Minor in Chemistry

My name is Nevin Adams, and I am currently a Junior at the University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign. I am studying Kinesiology with aspirations to become a Physician Assistant. I have always had a strong passion for healthcare, and would love to directly impact the lives of those in underserved, and low income areas in the future. This scholarship holds immense value, as it lessened the financial burden of my education, as well as my study abroad in Cape Town, South Africa I participated in this past winter. This trip allowed me to interact with the medically underinsured, and underserved. I was also able to gain perspective, and truly see the difference quality care makes on communities. I am committed to staying on the path of mentorship and community service, contributing to the development of future healthcare professionals within my university community.

Dr. Oijako,

The Black Alumni Network and Zebralter Medical Foundation Scholarship helped lower the costs of my education and gave me more time to focus on my studies. Being a first-generation college student and considered lower income, it is difficult to get much support for my education, especially financially. I am a pre-pharmacy student and continuing school can become very costly. Working full-time and being a full-time student can also be very difficult to manage and can put a strain on my grades.

Having to take difficult STEM classes while managing a job is very difficult and with this scholarship, I was able to maintain higher grades and be more involved on campus from working less hours. I am truly grateful that the Black Alumni Network and Zebralter Medical chose to support my education and give me an opportunity to achieve my career goals. I am forever grateful for your contribution.

Thank you so much
Daija McDonald
Daija McDonald
Senior Community Health: Planning & Administration

Dear Dr. Ojiako and the Zebralter Medical Foundation,

In 2021, I was honored to be a recipient of the Black Alumni Network Scholarship at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign sponsored by the Zebralter Medical Foundation. Like many in the last year of their undergraduate studies, I wasn’t exactly sure what my next step in life would be. But being awarded Zebralter’s scholarship I was provided with the confidence that whatever the future would take me, I was capable and deserving of success.

While learning about the organization that had awarded me the scholarship, an important principle stood out to me. That principle was “what you see, you can become and representation is key.” This concept has continued to resonate with me. We as a community must continue to support Black students in their endeavors to excel and take on positions in medicine and the sciences. One of the first steps in this goal is by helping students and others around them realize that there are professionals that look and come from the same places and experiences as they do.

The Zebralter Medical Foundation has inspired me to take on a career where I would have the ability to support and encourage students to ,reach their fullest potential. It is too often that young people are held back from accomplishing their goals because of a belief that they are not qualified enough to chase them. Organizations such as Zebralter help students recognize that there are professionals that look like them working in the industries that they desire to be in. This provides them with the confidence to be the best that they can in spite of any obstacles that they may face. A single sign of encouragement, such as the scholarship that I was given, can serve as a message to young people that there are people out there that want to see them succeed and will be there for them as they work their way towards their success.

Once again, I would like to graciously thank you for the impact that you have made on my life and the impacts that you will continue to make for other students in the fields of science and medicine.

BS in Clinical/Community Psychology – University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
MA in School Counseling Student – Chicago State University
Senior College Access Coach – Morgan Park High School (College Possible)

Dear Dr. Ojiako,

It is great reaching out to you again; I hope 2023 has begun with many blossoming opportunities for the Zebralter Medical Foundation.

As I’m in the latter half of my junior year and nearing towards the end of my overall undergraduate college experience, I wanted to express my appreciation for the BAN/Zebralter Medical Award I received as a sophomore. First and foremost, it has provided funds toward my education which has relieved burdens for my family. My younger sister is now applying for college, and while it is an exciting new chapter for my family, it will no doubt make finances more complicated, thus receiving the award lessens concerns from my side.

In regard to my academic experience, the BAN/Zebralter Medical Award provided me the push to become involved in kinesiology research and apply my knowledge firsthand in a laboratory. I am an undergraduate research assistant in the Exercise Psychology Laboratory, one of the few laboratories led by a woman of minority background, as well as composed of a diverse collective of female graduate assistants. I can say it’s truly been incredible working in the laboratory with participants and looking closely into how exercise affects the body and mind in a simultaneous manner. Moreover, I plan to apply for a masters program in the pursuit of a Masters in Public Health, here at the University of Illinois. The program would begin my senior year, which would allow me to graduate earlier (and with two degrees)!

With summer approaching, I have also began to apply for summer internships in the sports medicine field. Some are out-of-state such as Boston, Massachusetts, or close to home in Chicago. I’m hopeful to work at one of these internships and gain further insight on the inner workings of the healthcare and sports medicine industries.

For future recipients of the BAN/Zebralter Medical Award, I hope they recognize the many benefits and opportunities that open up when receiving this award, and it’s positive impact on their placement in academia and the professional sphere. I’m thankful to have been awarded the scholarship and continue to pay it forward through my engagement on campus and in my global community.

Thank you very much!

Kind regards,
Samaria Harris (she/her/hers)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
College of Applied Health Sciences | Kinesiology
AHS James Scholar Honors
Class of 2024

Dear Zebralter Medical Organization,

These past few years have been tough and difficult for all of us. Both financially, emotionally, and in some cases, academically. Thanks to the Zebralter Medical/BAN scholarship reward that I have received, a lot of the financial stress I was facing has gone away. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have been one of the award recipients. I hope to continue to succeed academically to make my community proud as well as you.
Organizations like yours go a long way in letting minority students know they are not alone. I look forward to paying it forward in my career as a Political Science major
Once again, thank you so much for this recognition and awarding me this scholarship, I promise to continue working hard!

With Gratitude,
Ethan Thuo (he/him/his)
Junior, Political Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | Class of 2024
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences | Political Science: Public Policy and Democratic Institutions
University of Illinois College of Law | Minor in Legal Studies
University of Illinois Housing | Resident Advisor & Front Desk Clerk
University of Houston Law Center Pre-Law Pipeline Program Scholar
Institute of Government and Public Affairs | Charles P. Wolff Intern

Dear Dr. Ojiako and Zebralter Medical Organization,
My name is Jarvis S. Williams and I was a 2022 Recipient of the Zebralter Medical BAN Scholarship! This scholarship has not only helped in paying for tuition and the necessities for school, but has impacted me several ways. Being a recipient of this scholarship showed me that there is an organization that believes that I have what it takes to succeed during college. With this faith, the Zebralter Medical Organization is invested in my studies in Engineering Technology and Management for Agricultural Systems. I have more confidence than when I first came into the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with this organization investing into my education. Along with this confidence, I am grateful that the Zebralter Medical Organization is making a difference in the lives of students of color.

From the scholarship to the recognition, the Zebralter Medical Organization is making sure that individuals, like myself, are seen and heard. This, therefore, enables my voice to help make a difference. For example, my voice is heard on the YouTube video with all of the scholarship winners speaking about our majors and the importance we will bring to the developing world. Overall, the fact that I was selected for a scholarship from the Zebralter Medical Organization means so much to me! This has given me the opportunity to continue my studies with confidence knowing that there is an organization giving their all to students like me in the field of STEM to make a difference in the world. I would like to give a huge thank you to the Zebralter Medical Organization for investing into my college career and my future in the field of agriculture as I continue to help feed the entire world.