Anthony Harris, a senior at Whitney Young School, wants to be a “beacon of light” for his family and friends and plans to pursue a degree in either theater or marketing and advertising.
Aiyanna Green, a senior at John Hay High School, wants to be a forensic psychiatrist and own her own practice.
The pair of Cleveland Metropolitan School District students were chosen from over 350 submitted applications and they were given a boost toward reaching their goals when they were honored Tuesday with the Cleveland Browns Foundation Marion Motley Scholarship, which is aimed at offering first-generation, low-income students with the support and resources they need to continue their educational journeys.
Harris and Green —who each will receive a four-year, renewable scholarship in the amount of $2,500 per year ($10,000 in total) — spoke of overcoming obstacles in pursuit of higher education.
“For me and my family, winning this scholarship would be that next step to the future and opening the door for a lot of opportunities that few people in my family have gotten to see,” Harris said. “It would mean that there’s a person in our bloodline — somebody in our household, my family — who is capable of doing great things and capable of moving forward and showing a lot of people, a lot of doubters who don’t think it can be done, that it can be done” Harris said.
“Having this opportunity would provide me with the chance to attend a university that would normally be outside of my financial bounds. It will allow me to be more focused on my academics rather than my financial situation. My dream school being Miami University, where I plan to study psychology, with a pre-med minor will best prepare me for both medical school and my intended career,” Green said.
Entering its 11th year, the partnership between the Cleveland Browns Foundation and College Now Greater Cleveland has awarded more than $220,000 in scholarships to 22 students. More than 90 percent of recipients graduate or are on track to graduate in within six years, compared to the 11 percent national average for low-income students.
The Marion Motley Scholarship honors former Browns fullback and linebacker Marion Motley, who broke ground as one of the first African-American players in the NFL and played with the Browns from 1946-53. The Canton, Ohio, native became the second African-American inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968.
Much like Motley, Harris and Green demonstrate the traits of resiliency and determination, among many other qualities that embody those of the former Browns player. “One of the biggest things in my family is there are a lot of males in the family and we have a lot of family reunions but you don’t see a lot of males at the family reunions because a lot of the things that they’ve have taken place in their lives have led them places where you shouldn’t go,” Harris said. “And the common factor that lies in between all of that is lack of education … my real motivation is to be a leader in my family and in my community to let everyone know that, ‘Hey, that’s an African American guy, and he can go to college, and he can do good’.”
The Marion Motley Scholarship is part of the Cleveland Browns Foundation’s mission of finding a solution-based, holistic approach to ensure Northeast Ohio youth receive the development and education they need. College Now provides Greater Cleveland students with guidance and access to funds to prepare for and graduate from college.
For nearly 50 years, its goal has been to help students pursue educational opportunities that empower them to embark on rewarding careers and strengthen our community. College Now Greater Cleveland assists more than 25,000 students each year, delivering college access advising, financial aid counseling, and scholarship and retention services in Greater Cleveland schools, in the College Now Resource Center and through community-based programs.