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Mark A. Jefferson Teaching Scholarship

Funded by
Picture of the donor
mark jefferson
1st winner$1,402
2nd winner$1,401
Application Deadline
Jan 14, 2024
Winners Announced
Feb 14, 2024
Education Level
High School, Undergraduate
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
2.8 or higher

Diversity in education is vital to the success of upcoming generations and the progression of the human race. 

In all sectors, educators are needed to foster an inclusive environment for students both young and old that also manifests a deep love for learning, lasting throughout their lifetime. 

In public school education, the educator workforce is staggeringly homogenous, as 82 percent of teachers in that sector are white. Black men make up only 2% of the teaching force.

It’s essential for educators to have backgrounds often left out of the history books to truly unravel the multiple complexities present in all sectors of our world today and to break apart many of the systemic barriers seen in communities of color. 

To support the needs of prospective Black male educators who want to fight for a more equitable tomorrow for their students and the world, the Mark A. Jefferson Teaching Scholarship exists and will support two extremely ambitious African-American males in their pursuit to become educators for the future.

To apply, you must be:

  • Aspiring Educator
  • African American
  • Male
  • Minimum of 2.8 GPA
  • Answer an essay that tells us a bit about yourself and how you plan to make a positive impact on the world through your career as an educator.
Selection Criteria:
Essay, Ambition, Vision, Purpose
Published February 25, 2023
Essay Topic

Please tell us a little bit more about yourself. How do you plan to make a positive impact on the world through your career as an educator?

400–600 words

Winning Applications

William Coleman
University of the CumberlandsWilliamsburg, KY
Larry Clarke
Sandalwood High SchoolJACKSONVILLE, FL
Whether tutoring, collaborating with others on assignments, or informing peers about the “ins and outs” of school, I have always made a point of assisting others academically, as I hold educational prosperity as a significant value of mine. My value of educational prosperity stems from a story my mom told me of her father growing up. My maternal grandfather was born in the early 1920s on a plantation, where he worked for the majority of his early life. With his circumstances, my grandfather understood his only chance of a better life was through school, which led him to work for and complete his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in 6 years. Understanding the value of learning and teaching others, my grandfather became a professor and eventually the Dean of the Mass Communication Department at Southern A&M University- the very university that nurtured his post-secondary educational journey. Hearing my grandfather’s story molded my childhood passion for learning not only because it showed me the value of an education in opening up possible opportunities but also because the story allowed me to envision myself helping others in their educational journey. From the moment I could, I enacted upon this vision of helping others in their schooling. I started as a tutoring aid for Exceptional Education Students in the eighth grade. Later in high school, I would take on similar leadership roles, such as a tutor for AVID students, Student Government President, and Senior Class President. My passion for learning eventually developed into a purpose for teaching, with the hopes of one day having my own history class. My career path in education was chosen to help guide the next generation through their educational journey while also showing students who look like me that teaching is a viable career path that also does good for others. Throughout my grade school educational journey, only two of my teachers have been Black males like myself. While few in number, both teachers left a lasting impact on character. I felt seen when I was a student in these teachers’ classrooms. I felt as if my teacher saw me as a person rather than a name on a class roster. This feeling of visibility from my teachers left me driven to strive for my own classroom of mutual understanding and peace, much like theirs. As an educator, I aim to create lasting connections with my students culturally and emotionally, allowing them to express themselves truthfully.
Jayden Braxton
University of GeorgiaDouglasville, GA
I would not be who I am without a teacher. I do not take for granted the positive influence on youth we teachers are blessed with. My name is Jayden Braxton, a college senior at the University of Georgia. I am enrolled in a combined undergraduate/graduate program majoring in Social Studies Education where I am set to graduate in May 2023. Scholastically, I am set to complete my MEd in Social Studies Education, through the Double Dawgs program, next fall to be the second person in my family with a graduate degree. While completing my Med, I plan to teach high school social studies (specifically Economics, U.S. History, or African American Studies). Within my program of thirty-three students, I am the only Black student in my program and one of three minority students. However, being the only Black student has brought on more isolation than I have previously known due to a professor/faculty member’s comments and racial insensitivity. This circumstance and my service initiated my goal to restart the student organization, Minorities in Education (MIE). MIE serves as a space to network with and support minority students studying education. This experience showed me how to advocate and assemble; I do not want any MFECOE student after me to walk the path alone in their quest to create or find inclusive spaces. One quality I have been praised for during student teaching is my authenticity. Whether I share my true emotions, passions, values, or reflections, I remain true to myself. Students nowadays are taught that “fake ‘til you make it” is the only way; however, my genuineness has opened more doors for me. Being a teacher to heavily online students requires you to be fully and unapologetically yourself. Honoring and recognizing that rewrites a narrative that may not be as practical anymore. That is why I stand out; that is why I will succeed. The school system surrounding UGA (Clarke County School District) is predominately Black. During my time working as an after-school program (ASP) counselor and a substitute teacher, I saw the power I had as a Black male educator. Four students in particular—two Black and two biracial—felt very comfortable with me. They listened to what I had to say, whether it was getting to know them, joking with them, or disciplining them. Being the only Black student in my program has also given me experiences that my classmates do not have in student teaching. In both our middle school and high school placement, students of color gravitate to me and are personable quicker. During my K-12, I have only had six Black teachers with only two of them being Black men. I learned in an educational psychology class that students of color feel more comfortable with teachers of color and in my opinion, the research holds true. I anticipate being one of, if not the only, Black male educator that my students will have. For some, I may be one of the few Black men they get to experience in childhood and adolescence. That bears a lot of weight and pressure; yet, I am aware of the predicament I was stepping into. Heavy is the head that wears the crown.
Tavares McBee
San Diego State UniversitySan Diego, CA
I’ve learned a lot in my life so far, both in the classroom and in the real world. When I was young, my parents taught me that people in this world wouldn’t always like me or accept me for who I was, and for people of color this can be true from multiple directions. I stopped caring what people thought of me in middle school, a relatively young age for such an accomplishment. I knew all that mattered was that I was myself and continuing to strive for growth and greatness, caring only about the positive people in my life and the things they said to build me up, including constructive criticism from anyone. This helped immensely in my life journey, as I was able to persevere through several instances in high school that others struggled much more with. Recently though, just this past year, I made an attempt to join a black fraternity at my college, San Diego State University. Though I’ve been rejected by my own kind before, it hurt to be directly told that I wouldn’t be considered to join the fraternity because I “didn’t exactly walk like us, ya know? You just got a little different vibe. ” When I further inquired for clarification, one of the members of the fraternity council directly told me that I “just wasn’t black enough”. This was definitely hard to hear, but after a short period of initial shock I quickly remembered that what they thought of me didn’t matter. They weren’t trying to be hateful, they simply didn’t understand me because I was defying the same norms and stereotypes that they were afraid to break with their mannerisms. This instilled a subtle fear in them, fear of the unknown. And this was something I had decided early on that I would not be a victim of or allow those I care about to be a victim of. Being black doesn’t mean talking or acting a certain way, you don’t have to wear your hair or clothes the way the world expects you too, and you don’t have to be involved in all of the good or bad things that society expects us to be. In the wise words of Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, “being black isn’t what I’m trying to be, it's what I am.” This message will not go unspoken any longer. In my career as an educator, I may want to teach something in STEM or educate on how to be financially independent. But most importantly, along with my message about defying the weights of this world, I would teach students how to grow. Life is made to be enjoyed, but we can’t enjoy life without freedom. Who doesn’t want to have control over their lives and the ability to make choices for themselves; still, freedom comes in many forms. One of the most important aspects of freedom is freedom of mind. Our entire early lives, as we go through our mandatory educational institutions, we are taught not how to learn and grow, but how to follow directions. We are taught to be another number in a never ending cycle, a system that does not allow us to truly free our minds and let our imaginations run wild. We are not encouraged to express ourselves and create what our dreams move us to create; we aren’t urged on to become one of the greats and make the next Facebook or TikTok. When I step into the classroom, students of all minorities will know that they can break their societally oppressive chains to achieve greatness.
Deshaun jackson
University of Michigan-FlintDavison, MI
December 14, 2018 will be permanently burned into my memory as it was the day of my God-mother Gloria Jean Bailey passed away from MDS cancer. Though not my biological mother she brought me home from the hospital day one and would continue to raise and have a monumental influence in my life. Prior to Gloria passing away her last two weeks were spent at home comfortably around family Despite my emotional distress, I shelved my despair and sadness to stay strong for Glo. How I found the emotional fortitude during this incredibly stressful time to help change Glo’s diaper when she became unable to walk to the bathroom or swab her mouth with water when she struggled to swallow, I don’t know. I do know that the death of my godmother was the direct catalyst that propelled me to apply for the Nursing program. The financial stress of paying for college and fear of failure are my two biggest concerns currently in the nursing program at the University of Michigan-Flint. Winning a scholarship would effectively reduce my stress by half and allow myself and my family to more comfortably make this transition while I’m in the nursing program. Since 2013 I have systematically increased my knowledge staying current as a Physical Therapy Assistant while studying nursing education. Successful completion of my previous degree and entrance into the nursing program required passing Chemistry, Human Anatomy and passing rigorous clinical rotations. Currently at The University of Michigan-Flint, I have passed Computers in Healthcare, Health Assessment, Introduction to Nursing, Pathophysiology. I am at the point in my collegiate career where I am concerned about my ability to secure loans to complete the nursing program. I love being a clinician and to be able to carry that affinity across multiple disciplines is a dream of mine. This scholarship is essential for my academic and professional goals. Prior to graduating from Mott C.C. with my Physical Therapist Assistant degree and enrolling in the nursing program at The University of Michigan-Flint I was a Sous Chef. Returning to college for my associate’s and currently enrolled for my bachelor’s is having a profound impact on the quality of care I deliver as a clinician to my patients. This collegiate journey is a contract between myself and my patients—to deliver the best evidence-based practice and compassionate care. A passion of mine is the research and clinical application of STEM with physical therapy and nursing. The interprofessional partnership between nurses, scientists, physical therapists, engineers and mathematicians are directly impacting the quality of patient care. Prosthetics that allow paraplegics to walk are examples of the future of biomechanical technology. May 8th, 2015 in Lansing Michigan was the day I received The Breaking Traditions Awards. The award required recipients to demonstrate success in CTE programs that are nontraditional to their gender. I am currently making a second attempt to demonstrate the same qualities needed to win this award by graduating from The University of Michigan-Flint nursing program. I have maxed out my current federal loans and am concerned about my financial ability to complete the program. My future academically is to achieve my master’s degree as a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) and begin mentoring or teaching students at Mott C.C. or The University of Michigan-Flint. The University of Michigan-Flint hasn’t had an African American male instructor in the nursing program since its inception, I hope to change that and become the first. Professionally I aspire to blur the current boundary between nursing and physical therapy and demonstrate how one clinician can excel in both roles.
Kenneth Boateng
Stockton UniversityBurlington, NJ
Full transparency, my career path isn't directly focused on being an educator. My interest lie in becoming a Registered Nurse. However, I plan on ending my career path with becoming a Nursing Professor. I honestly can't see a better way to top off the end of my career. To give some perspective, let's look focus on the big life event that's affected everyone for the past 2 years. We've seen in the past two years how important healthcare workers are, especially nurses. If I were to ask most people what their experience with Covid was, most would answer that a lot of things become virtual and not as accessible. Maybe their favorite restaurant closed, their job become remote, or maybe they even got Covid themselves. Based on the mortality rate, most people who had Covid were sick for about 2 weeks and eventually were back to normal. Arguably, the worst experience someone could've had would be losing a family member or friend to the virus. I can speak on that and say that's the worst thing Covid has done to me in the past two years with the passing of my brother in July 2021. Now, let's shift this question specifically to healthcare workers like Nurses. Purely based on the profession, the common person's worst experiences with Covid would seem mundane in comparison to what Nurses have to deal with. They've seen people on the brink of death on ventilators, young people with their whole life ahead of them dying, families being permanently fractured from a loss, working overtime to make up for the nurses out of commission from contracting the virus, and so much more. The hardships this pandemic has brought upon the average person is experienced tenfold for health care workers. I mention all this to highlight the weight of the profession all nursing students are going into. Nurses are pillars that keep the healthcare doctor's offices, hospitals, clinics and other places running. The takeaway from this is that anyone going into the nursing profession needs to be as prepared as possible for everything the job will throw at them. With this understanding, I put a lot of responsibility and value in the opportunity to be an educator for future nurses. By sharing my knowledge and experience to the future nurses of tomorrow, I can give them a head start in not just becoming nurses, but practicing as amazing nurses. I can steer them in the right direction to prevent them from making the mistakes I made and help them form the core of the practice from an early stage so they are stronger. Ultimately, my positive impact on the world will be to contribute towards breeding the future generations of nurses. In the position of a nursing professor, I'll be able to ensure that I not only help produce superb nurses, but hopefully i can inspire future educators who can pass the torch and knowledge they've gained onto their students.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Jan 14, 2024. Winners will be announced on Feb 14, 2024.

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