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Expanding Access: The Liberty Scholars Program

  • Bernetta McCall-Millonde
Posted on January 11, 2021
Inclusion and Access

I was 10 living in Brooklyn, New York attending P.S. 125 when Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes' 1975 hit, "Wake Up Everybody" hit the airwaves. It is still one of my favorite songs because of the bridge:

The world won't get no better if we just let it be
The world won't get no better we gotta change it yeah,
Just you and me

I was 27 living in Los Angeles, California working at the University of Southern California in 1992 when six days of protests, later dubbed the Rodney King Riots, erupted in response to the police beating of an unarmed Black man, Rodney King.

The world won't get no better if we just let it be
The world won't get no better we gotta change it yeah,
Just you and me

I am 55 living in Mullica Hill, New Jersey working at Drexel University in 2020 when an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, was murdered while struggling for breath under the knee of a police officer, and Black Lives Matter was recognized as a movement, not a moment.

The world won't get no better if we just let it be
The world won't get no better we gotta change it yeah,
Just you and me

It is in the spirit of recognizing that our nation is experiencing, once again, a time of social reckoning regarding race that the University has approved expanding the reach and scope of the Liberty Scholars Program. "We gotta change it yeah."

For the next decade, we commit to working with more racially, ethnically, and regionally diverse classes and developing Liberty Scholars who are thought leaders on race relations, equity, inclusion, and other social justice challenges.

In the decade since its inception in 2010, Drexel University's Liberty Scholars Program has awarded approximately $89 million in full tuition and fee scholarships to more than 500 financially disadvantaged high school graduates residing in the city of Philadelphia. With retention and graduation rates surpassing overall Drexel averages of 97.4 percent and 86.1 percent, respectively, the Liberty Scholars Program has served the recipients of the Liberty Scholarship and the Philadelphia community well.

Beginning fall 2021 in advancement of access, diversity, equity, and inclusion, the Liberty Scholars Program will expand from enrolling 50 financially disadvantaged students from Philadelphia to 65 students with demonstrated financial need who are also historically underrepresented or first-generation college students from across our nation. Priority consideration will be given to high-achieving high school seniors who demonstrate a commitment to academic excellence, community service, and social justice. For the next decade, we commit to working with more racially, ethnically, and regionally diverse classes and developing Liberty Scholars who are thought leaders on race relations, equity, inclusion, and other social justice challenges.

In the next decade, when I am 65, my expectation is that the Liberty Scholars Program will have Liberty Scholars who are leaders in their respective industries using their voices positively changing and improving race relations, equity, and inclusion at Drexel University, the city of Philadelphia, and beyond.

The world won't get no better if we just let it be
The world won't get no better we gotta change it yeah,
Just you and me


Bernetta McCall-Millonde is Director for Diversity Initiatives and Community Relations at Drexel. Bernetta is passionate about equity in education, enjoys reading mysteries, eating Japanese cuisine, and has been working in college admissions since 1988.

Bernetta McCall-Millonde

Bernetta McCall-Millonde
Posted in Bernetta McCall-Millonde