Pitt African American Alumni Council Fundraising Efforts Support Student Leaders

Issue Date: 
November 1, 2010
Glory OjiereGlory Ojiere
Deitrick FranklinDeitrick Franklin

Glory Ojiere and Deitrick Franklin are among the recent Pitt students to receive scholarship support from the African American Alumni Council (AAAC).  Both have exceeded the high expectations of their benefactors by not only maintaining high grade point averages, but also by having made outstanding contributions to the University as student leaders.

The AAAC is a group that appreciates the importance of meeting and exceeding expectations.  Last October, it announced the launch of its first major fundraising campaign and set a goal of $3 million to increase financial support for promising students like Ojiere and Franklin.  In less than one year, the AAAC campaign has raised more than $2 million in gifts and pledges toward that goal.

The AAAC, which was founded in the late 1980s to recruit and retain African American students, faculty, administrators, and staff, selected Ojiere to receive the AAAC Endowed Scholarship.  It is one of the alumni group’s three giving priorities for the campaign; the Bebe Moore Campbell Scholarship Fund and the Jack L. Daniel Endowed Book Award are the other two funds the AAAC has earmarked to provide students of diverse backgrounds with direct aid.

Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew, who is cochair of the AAAC campaign, believes in the power and potential of the support the AAAC provides to students:

“I have not seen any student that has not been phenomenal.  Considering that these are students of ordinary means who would not have the opportunity to reach their educational goals—and their real potential—without someone helping financially, it is no surprise that the students who ultimately received the scholarships continue to be grateful.  We see every single day that they are able to live their dreams.  And because of their appreciation for this, the desire to help other students and give back what was given to them is always there—even after graduation, even when they leave Pitt for anywhere in the world.”

Ojiere is a junior majoring in psychology with a focus on premedicine.  She plans to join the Peace Corps and aspires to work for Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization.  In addition to pursuing her academic endeavors, Ojiere is the director of hiring, training, and recruitment for the Pitt Pathfinders, the University’s group of student recruiters.  In that role, she is one of Pitt’s most exuberant ambassadors.

“I love Pitt, and I wouldn’t want to hire someone who doesn’t share the same enthusiasm,” said Ojiere.

Ojiere excels academically while at the same time staying very busy hiring and training all of the new student recruiters.  It is a job that is very close to her heart—first, because she started as a recruiter herself, and second, because she cares deeply for the University.  It was largely because Pitt Pathfinders kept in close contact with her that Ojiere visited and eventually chose Pitt.  She had toured 13 different schools in her college search—among them NYU and Columbia in New York City and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, her hometown.

“I have so much appreciation for a school I love returning its love to me,” Ojiere commented. “I hope to always be an advocate for Pitt, starting with being a role model for students.”

The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, Ojiere believes in giving back.  “It wasn’t easy for my parents to leave everything to come here. I am the first child in my family able to go to college.  I fell in love with medicine.  It is important for me to thank my family for always being supportive.”

Deitrick Franklin is a junior majoring in mechanical engineering who receives financial support from the AAAC’s Karl Lewis Impact Fund, which honors Professor Emeritus Karl Lewis, who created the Impact program while teaching civil engineering at Pitt.  Impact provides tutoring, counseling, and financial aid to help underrepresented students succeed in engineering.  In 2004, five Impact program alumni recognized Lewis’ work by establishing the Karl H. Lewis Impact Alumni Endowed Fund.

Franklin, who also is from Baltimore, maintains high grades while also devoting a considerable amount of time to the Pitt chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, a student organization that strives to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.

Franklin currently serves on the Pitt chapter’s executive board as program chair and is responsible for planning and coordinating the student group’s events, which include an annual banquet, study-a-thons, and a ski trip.  Last year, Franklin served as the academic excellence chair for the organization.

As the Karl Lewis Impact Scholar, Franklin has had the opportunity to meet Lewis as well as other AAAC members who attended the 2009 Sankofa event.  His contacts have inspired him and helped him land an internship with Chevron in Houston this past summer.

“It’s really been a wonderful opportunity,” Franklin said of the financial support he receives, adding, “I’m glad I was chosen as the first student to receive this scholarship.”