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AEP Foundation Boosts Grant to Fund SMC's Grady Scholars’ Second Year

August 3, 2022

The American Electric Power (AEP) Foundation, at the recommendation of Indiana Michigan Power (I&M), increased its grant to $20,000 to fund the second year of Grady Scholars for students in southwest Michigan. 

Classie Newbern, Alex Medina, Jazmin Walker, Jose Medina, Drew Ruth, Melissa Crespo are Grady Scholars.

The competitive program gives first priority to in-district graduating high school seniors from populations that are historically underrepresented in college enrollment.  Students receiving the scholarship will develop leadership abilities, including helping recipients become residential hall assistants and orientation leaders.

“We truly appreciate the support of the AEP Foundation to establish and to continue Grady Scholars, which would not have happened without our relationship with Indiana Michigan Power,” said Dr. Joe Odenwald, president of Southwestern Michigan College. “AEP Foundation has almost tripled its grant from last year to this year, and we will be able to serve 20 students in the program during the 2022-2023 academic year.”

The scholarships are named for George Grady (1933-1977), a Dowagiac resident, Navy diver and Korean War veteran who served as Michigan’s first Black police chief for nine years from 1965 through 1974.

"Being in the Grady Scholarship Program didn’t just help me out financially, it has helped me gain more leadership skills and showed me what being a leader is all about,” said Classie Newbern, biology/medical pre-professional major and Grady Scholar.

Another Grady Scholar participant is business major Alexander Medina ,a Paw Paw business major working at Costco in Kalamazoo.  He is looking to transfer into the Ferris State University partnership for his bachelor’s degree, with aspirations to start his own business or to climb the corporate ladder.

 “I felt I could be a potential leader owning my own business, so it sounded like a good opportunity,” Medina said.

“We were honored to play a role in helping to get funding for the first class of Grady Scholars started on their college education,” said Mona Livingston, Community Affairs manager for Indiana Michigan Power. “We believe that this initiative aligns well with the mission of the AEP Foundation, and it’s evident from the success of the first class that it is worthy of further community support.”

Southwestern Michigan College is a public, residential and commuter community college founded in 1964. The college delivers above-average graduation/transfer rates compared to other community colleges nationally and student college-level course success that is consistently in the top 25 percent of two-year colleges nationally. The college is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges.

Those interested in learning more about Southwestern Michigan College or applying for the next class of Grady Scholars in Fall 2022 should visit swmich.edu.

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