Strada Education-Supported Scholarship Recipient Helps Launch UNCF Campaign

By Pat Roe

Vice President, Philanthropy, Strada Education Network

At a recent UNCF Indianapolis reception to launch its annual fundraising campaign, it was a Strada Education NetworkSM-supported UNCF scholarship recipient whose inspirational story set the tone for the campaign for the more than 125 supporters of the local organization in attendance.

UNCF/Strada Education Scholar Diona Richardson spoke about the importance of making informed choices in selecting an area of study, career and postsecondary education. Ms. Richardson, a sophomore majoring in health sciences at Spelman College, praised her counselor at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis as well as her parents for helping her discover and pursue her dreams and aspirations.

She now plans to become an orthodontist. But without good advice and financial assistance, those plans might not have taken hold, Ms. Richardson said later.

“My advice to students is to explore things to expose yourself to different kinds of careers you might not have thought about,” she said. “You need someone who knows a lot of information about careers and can suggest schools. My counselor had a lot of that information, but you should really reach out for information, whether it’s from a counselor, a teacher or online research.”

UNCF/Strada Education Scholar Diona Richardson, center, joins Daryl Graham, left, and Pat Roe of Strada Education at a UNCF Indianapolis campaign kickoff event.

College and career plans established, it then was assistance from UNCF that helped her take the final steps toward successfully accomplishing her goals. Her senior year in high school, Ms. Richardson’s mother lost her job, and then her father suddenly passed away.

Without financial assistance — including her UNCF/Strada Education Scholarship — she might not have been able to go to college.

“I’m so appreciative of the UNCF,” she said. “Having support has made all the difference. The scholarship made everything possible.”

In Indiana Strada Education Network has provided more than $3.5 million in the last 15 years to fund UNCF scholarships for local students and to establish UNCF councils in additional communities in the state.

We were proud to be among those to help UNCF Indianapolis begin its annual campaign, which culminates with the UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball in December. We’re proud to be a part of the network of individuals and organizations helping UNCF in its efforts to help underrepresented students get to and through college. And, as a member of UNCF’s advisory council for Indiana, I’m pleased that Strada Education will again sponsor the annual masked ball.

But most importantly, we’re excited about what the future holds in college and career for the students UNCF supports — students like UNCF/Strada Education Scholar Diona Richardson.