Award-winning playwright Katori Hall (1999) is now directing a short film! She will make her directing debut when “Arkabutla” is released in early 2016.
Justin Pasquariello (1997), Executive Director, Children’s HealthWatch in Boston was honored as one of Ten Outstanding Young Leaders for the Boston Chamber of Commerce at their awards banquet in September.
We continued our fall receptions in Utah, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas!
Swire Coca-Cola bottling in Draper, UT hosted a great reception for our Scholars and alumni.
25 Scholars and alumni joined Mark and Carolyn in Chicago on October 5.
Jamie, Carolyn and Megan enjoyed visiting with over 30 Scholars and alumni in Durham, NC on October 22. Thank you to Hager Rand and Jean McGuire with Durham Coca-Cola for attending and providing product for us and to Jamie Lathan (1996) for helping us secure a room at the NC School of Science and Math!
Matt Clemmens (2002), Anne Rhett (2005) and Wesli Jones (2012) attended dinner with Jamie, Carolyn, LaQuanda and Jane while they were in Charleston, SC for the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA) conference. Big thanks to Matt and his wife Clarice for hosting us and cooking a delicious meal for everyone!
Lauren, Megan, LaQuanda and Emily enjoyed seeing about 20 Scholars and alumni in Austin, TX on October 26 while they were in town for Blackbaud’s BBCON conference.
Sue Suh (1992) and Peter Kim (2011) volunteered at the Korean Parade and Festival in New York City on October 3, sharing information about the Coca-Cola Scholars Program with attendees.
…and then rode on top of a float!
Scholars Kevin Chung (1990), Mehul Patel (1994), Jason Pate (2005), and Sarah Williams (2011) met up in California.
In its 29 years of existence, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has awarded more than 5,550 college scholarships to high school seniors. What do all of those selected have in common? A passion to make our world a better place, and the determination to make it happen.
Bringing together these like-minded leaders, the Coca-Cola Scholars Alumni Advisory Board (AAB) hosted the inaugural Service Summit in Miami September 11-13. Program alumni of all ages came from across the country to learn from local experts and fellow alumni how to maximize one’s impact in service. The three-day event explored finding solutions to a sustainable future for people, places and our planet, and delved into the worlds of philanthropy, elected office, and nonprofit leadership.
“I think what the AAB has done has given us the opportunity to connect with each other and to find ways we can help support our communities, whether they be in Atlanta, Georgia, or a remote village in Pakistan. We’ve found opportunities where we can share our collective talents and our collective insights to genuinely make the world a better place,” said Mary Kathryn Covert Steel, US Spokeswoman for Sanofi and 2003 Scholar.
Mayors Carlos Gimenez of Miami-Dade County (left) and Jack Seiler of Ft. Lauderdale (middle) share insights with Scholars.
Kicking off on Friday, September 11, Scholars and alumni focused on serving people, particularly through civil service, learning from Carlos Gimenez, Mayor of Miami-Dade County (R), and Jack Seiler, Mayor of Ft. Lauderdale (D) in a panel moderated by Marc Eichenbaum, Special Assistant to the Mayor for Homeless Initiatives for the City of Houston and 2000 Scholar.
Coca-Cola Scholars and City Year Miami corps members paint an encouraging mural in a hallway at Cutler Bay Middle School.
On Saturday, alumni focused on discovering what makes a community great and how to enrich the places we live and work, culminating with a service event with City Year Miami, an organization working to increase graduation rates by bridging the gap in high-poverty communities between the support that students actually need, and what their schools are designed and resourced to provide. Alumni and City Year corps members completed 14 different improvement projects at Cutler Bay Middle School with school volunteers.
Coke Scholars Jeremy O’Brien and Joel Martin build a bench to go by the basketball courts at Cutler Bay Middle School.
“The impact is going to be immeasurable. We didn’t tell any of the students because we want it to be a surprise when they return on Tuesday. To see the amazement in their eyes is going to be huge,” said Paul Pfeiffer, Principal at Cutler Bay Middle School, while witnessing the project in action.
April Crow, Senior Director of Environment and Sustainability at The Coca-Cola Company, discusses sustainability initiatives with Coke Scholars.
Sunday the group moved to the University of Miami and explored sustainability and how to make an impact as a corporation. Mike Fernandez, Founder of MBF Healthcare Partners, shared how to create social good through business, and April Crow, Senior Director of Environment and Sustainability at The Coca-Cola Company, discussed the creation of Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle and other sustainability initiatives.
Throughout the weekend, several alumni shared how they give back to their communities through endeavors ranging from public service in elected office and government to work with a nonprofit. Among the group was Steven Olikara, Co-Founder and President of the Millennial Action Project and 2008 Scholar, and Rep. Katrina Shankland of the Wisconsin State Assembly and 2005 Scholar.
“I knew if I came down here that I would feel motivated and inspired, and I have new ideas to take back with me,” said Shankland.
The Service Summit concluded with alumni standing to make service pledges to benefit their communities when they return home.
“We hope Scholars will leave here reconnected to their mission of service, and with a mature understanding of what that might mean in their daily lives and the different forms it might take,” said Micaela Connery, who coordinated programming for the event and is a 2004 Scholar. President of the Scholars Foundation J. Mark Davis agreed, “This reignites the flame for service.”
City Year Miami corps members, school volunteers, and Coca-Cola Scholars after a productive day of service.
The Coca-Cola Scholars Alumni Advisory Board was created by alumni in 2006 to build on the efforts of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation through networking, mentoring, and collaborations. They have collaborated with the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation to host two Leadership Summits in the past, and this is the first summit focused solely on service. In July of 2015, the AAB hosted the successful Coke Scholars Hack, an event where alumni found creative solutions for nonprofits in just one day.
“We will continue to set the mark for what a really diverse and powerful network of alums can do together when they’re connected,” said TJ Abrams, Global Senior Brand Manager for Sprite and Adults at The Coca-Cola Company and 2001 Coca-Cola Scholar.
High school seniors may apply to be a Coca-Cola Scholar and receive a $20,000 college scholarship on the Foundation’s website through October 31.
The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation provides scholarship programs and lifelong enrichment opportunities in support of exceptional peoples’ thirst for knowledge and their desire to make a difference in the world. Through the Coca-Cola Scholars Program, they award 150 college scholarships of $20,000 to socially-conscious and service-minded high school seniors across the nation each year, resulting in a network of over 5,550 program alumni who have become a powerful force for positive change. For more information about the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, Scholar alumni, or how to support these efforts, visit www.coca‑colascholars.orgor contact Lauren O’Brien at laurenobrien@coca‑cola.com.
“One of the lessons I’ve learned is that you should embrace what makes you unique. When I first started running for office, I was told I had to sound and act like a typical Congressional candidate who’s double my age and represents a certain demographic. That turned out to be bad advice, so I didn’t take it. I owned the fact that I was a young female candidate who was different and had a different perspective – and that ended up being a strength in the campaign.” said Elise.
Samantha Smith (2015) is a recipient of the LPGA tour’s Marilynn Smith Scholarship. Each year, 25 high school seniors who will play collegiate golf while pursuing college degrees are selected based on outstanding academic excellence, leadership skills and active involvement and service to her community. Each recipient receives $5,000 in scholarships.
25 Scholars and alumni came together for our first fall reception in Denver earlier this month. Scholars were joined by special guests from Swire Coca-Cola, the Daniels Fund the Boettcher Foundation (who provided the beautiful venue pictured above), and Scholars Foundation staff.
Nancy Redd (1999) and Elizabeth Galbut (2007) were on HuffPost Live together on Monday, September 21. Nancy, a HuffPost Live host, interviewed Elizabeth, Founding Partner at SoGal Ventures, about recent efforts to revitalize the concord airplane. Watch the video here, and find them at the 18:40 mark.
Justin Pearson (2013) and Justin Hattan (1996) met up for lunch in Washington, DC. Justin Pearson is interning in Congress, and Justin Hattan works at the National Security Council in the White House.
Kelsey Tainsh (2008) ran into Kai Kight (2010) at the 2015 Inbound Conference where they were both featured speakers.
J. Mark Davis, President of CCSF, attended the PAGE Foundation’s annual banquet and spotted Karyn Harrington (1997, left) and Ogechi Oparah (2009, middle).
1990 Scholar Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) is featured in a Q&A in Coca-Cola Journey. Ben was elected last November after serving as president of Midland University, a 130-year-old Lutheran college he steered out of bankruptcy to become one of the fastest-growing higher education institutions in the country by the time of his departure.
Said Ben, “I remember my interview during the selection weekend very clearly. Five interviewers, bright lights and a lot of questions that challenged us not to give predictable answers about wanting to save the world. I remembered and appreciated the rigor of those questions in the following years. It’s been great staying connected to the Scholars Foundation, and I was honored to serve on that same selection committee later.”
Raina Kadavil (2015) published her first book, “The Voice of Thunder,” a young adult fiction novel she describes as “a little bit like Game of Thrones crossed with Avatar: The Last Airbender.” Read more about the book and find it on Amazon.com.
Said Ahmad, “In her speech, she recognized the student leaders in the room. I stood up as she addressed us; however, I was the only one standing! She complemented me for displaying leadership, so I asked to take a picture with her, but I did not expect to receive one. After the event, I left the room and was suddenly escorted by staff to an area where Michelle Obama was waiting for me. I was star-struck. So, my first response was to run and give her a big hug! I’m almost certain that I broke protocol, but I was too excited to care! She was kind enough to speak to me for a few minutes. I thanked her for all the work she’s done for education reform and took pictures with her.”
Julian Plowden (2010) was interviewed on City NPR 90.1 WABE’s City Lights. Julian discussed several of his photos and his experience photographing #BlackLivesMatter protests.
The room was full of optimism as the first #CokeScholarsHack began at The Coca-Cola Company headquarters on Saturday, July 25. But this hack had nothing to do with computer programming – instead, it was an opportunity for over 50 participants, including 25 Scholars, mentors, judges and volunteers, to make a difference by helping 3 nonprofits. Partnering with Amplify 4 Good, a group that strengthens the efforts of service organizations and entrepreneurs by making them better equipped to foster positive change in underserved communities, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and its Alumni Advisory Board organized the hack to create transformative change in a fast-paced and intense environment.
Hackers listened to representatives from 3 nonprofits present their design, marketing, and fundraising problems:
Following the presentations from the nonprofits, hackers joined together in groups to use their skills, expertise, and entrepreneurial innovation methodologies to come up with solutions. Each nonprofit had 2 groups dedicated to brainstorming – in just 5 hours – ways to improve their processes.
After creating solution presentations, the hackers reassembled to showcase their ideas to the nonprofit leaders and 4 judges, who would select the group with the most impactful solution:
The judges evaluated 6 innovative solutions, and Empower Orphans Team 2 was chosen as the winning team. Ameet Kallarackal, Darien Dabney, Karyn Harrington, Laura Lasance, Kembo Tom, and Wylie Mao’s solution involved refocusing the organization, narrowing their scope to basic health and education intervention for orphans under 18, and then creating a replicable model to attract high school and college students as volunteers. They also suggested strategic partnerships to gain visibility, even partnering with 3 organizations that day.
“It was a truly wonderful experience that will help drastically expand Empower Orphans,” said Neha Gupta, Founder of Empower Orphans and pictured above. “It is always such an honor to be reconnected with Coke Scholars and Coke alumni. I still cannot believe I am one of them; I feel very lucky.”
In the end, all 6 teams brought a new and valuable perspective to their nonprofit and learned from their teammates during their collaboration.
“As always, I am consistently impressed by the caliber of Coca-Cola Scholar events – [this] hackathon one of them…It’s very exciting to see the Foundation continue to move in a positive direction,” Hacker and 2010 Scholar John Lowry said.
Jay Cranman shared a judge’s perspective: “This hackathon is just another, in a myriad of ways, in which Coke continues to invest in the Atlanta community. It was a special day and I was honored to be part of it. It was easy to see the power of service and volunteerism as 50 individuals gave up a day of their weekend to support 3 amazing nonprofits. I’m sure those nonprofits got a tremendous lift from the event, but like a lot of things in life, I venture that the individual participants and judges, myself included, were the real winners.”
As a result of the great success of the event, the Coca-Cola Scholars Alumni Advisory Board, created by alumni to build on the efforts of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation through networking, mentoring, and collaborations, plans to host another #CokeScholarsHack in Los Angeles later this year.
The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation Alumni Advisory Board (AAB) was formed in 2006 by alumni Scholars to help support the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation’s mission and goals. Currently 15 alumni serve on the AAB on a 3 year rotation. This year they are happy to welcome 5 new members, Micaela Connery (2004), Alice Park (1999), Daron Roberts (1997), Nola Weinstein (2001), and Sandy Williams Alumni Legacy Scholar Justin Pearson (2013), who will join the board in October 2015.
Micaela Connery, a 2004 Coca-Cola Scholar, is the founder of Unified Theater, an organization she launched at the age of 15 inspired by her cousin Kelsey, and MPP Candidate at Harvard Kennedy School focusing on disability, inclusion, and community development. At the Kennedy School, she is a research fellow for the Joint Center for Housing Studies working on issues of disability housing and a teaching assistant in social entrepreneurship. Micaela serves as a Global Shaper for the World Economic Forum and has been recognized for her work as a Bluhm Helfand Social Innovation Fellow, a 2010 DoSomething Award Winner, a Gloria T. A. Barron Young Hero, a CNN Breakthrough Woman and a West Hartford Connecticut Citizen of the Arts. She’s spoken at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos and keynoted the National Conference on Inclusion (KIT), the National Collegiate Leadership Conference, and Chicago Ideas Week.
Alice Park, a 1999 Scholar, created Alice Park Photography, which was recently recognized by the Atlanta Business Chronicle for being one of the top grossing studios in the city. In 2009, she co-founded the National Association of Professional Child Photographers (NAPCP) with her husband, Kyu, which is represented in over 60 countries and has become the most recognized photography association within the industry. As the co-founder and Creative Director, Alice continues to grow their educational platform and strengthens their global membership community. Alice is highly involved in her community, serving on the board of Haiti Babi, a nonprofit social enterprise whose mission is to bring families together and end the cycle of poverty in Haiti. She also serves on both school boards of her son Lyon’s preschools, spending many volunteer hours creatively helping with school events, photography-related projects, while spear-heading fundraising efforts. Alice graduated from Georgia Tech and lives in Atlanta with her husband Kyu and their children Lyon and Elise.
Daron K. Roberts, a 1997 Coca-Cola Scholar, is the founding director of the Center for Sports Leadership & Innovation at the University of Texas. He is also CEO and Founder of 4th and 1, Inc. – a nonprofit that provides free SAT/ACT prep, football training, and life skills development to at-risk youth in Texas, Michigan, and Florida. To date, 4th and 1 has transformed nearly 400 student-athletes into independent thinkers and self-sufficient young men. Roberts has spent the past seven years as a football coach with the Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns. He earned his B.A. in Plan II Honors and Government from The University of Texas in 2001. He holds an M.P.P. from the Harvard Kennedy School (2004) and J.D. from Harvard Law School (2007). Daron enjoys living in Austin, TX with his wife Hilary and their three children.
Nola Weinstein, a 2001 Scholar, is Head of Executive Engagement @Twitter where she focuses on brand storytelling and amplifying corporate influencers. In her role, Nola works with business leaders from around the world to help them better understand the power of the platform and optimize their personal Twitter presence to drive meaningful messaging and impact. Additionally, she runs executive briefings and innovation tours at Twitter’s San Francisco Headquarter for key executives. Prior to joining Twitter, Nola was Editor-in-Chief/VP of Content at Mode Media (formerly Glam Media) where she oversaw content creation and curation strategies across multiple sites and platforms for the top 10 comScore property. Nola was previously Associate Fashion News Editor at IMG’s The Daily and her work has also appeared in Women’s Wear Daily, The Huffington Post, and Seventeen. Weinstein, an expert in digital content strategy, content marketing, and scaled influencer activations, also advises a variety of brands and startups. She is a graduate of Emory University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Follow her on Twitter @NolaBeth.
Justin J. Pearson, a 2013 Scholar, attends Bowdoin College where he concentrates primarily on Government and Legal Studies. Justin is the founder and executive director of Camp Hope Memphis, a summer enrichment program for underserved teenage students in his hometown. Since 2013, this program has impacted over 100 students and has added a new location. Camp Hope teaches lessons in social advocacy, college access, and global citizenship. Recently, Justin presented his research on the evolution of government intervention in education policy for the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship. He currently serves as an associate board member of State Farm’s Youth Advisory Board, which allocates 5 million dollars in grants to neighborhoods and nonprofits across America. An advocate for equity in education, he aspires to invest in others as many people have invested in him. Justin is the 2013 Sandy Williams Alumni Legacy Scholar and is honored and excited to join the AAB.
Rocio Ortega (2012) had the honor of introducing First Lady Michelle Obama as a keynote speaker at the 4th annual 2015 Girl Up Leadership Summit on July 14. The First Lady joined them to celebrate Girl Up joining her initiative “Let Girls Learn” aimed at ensuring girls around the world receive an education. Rocio has been involved with Girl Up since 2011, first as a Girl Up club founder at her high school then as a Teen Advisor for the campaign. She is now a Youth Champion was part of a United Nations Foundation Girl Up delegation to Ethiopia to visit Somali girls living in refugee camps. “I do everything from engaging with youth supporters in the U.S. and around the world to lobbying in Capitol Hill for legislation that meets the needs of girls education in developing countries, fundraising, and helping organize Girl Up leadership summits,” said Rocio.
Adan Gonzalez (2012), recent Georgetown graduate, was featured in USA Today. Watch how he is balancing a double life between being a student CEO of the Si Se Puede Network and coming from a poor community in Dallas where people are just trying to survive.
A photo taken by Julian Plowden (2010) from Atlanta’s August 2014 Ferguson solidarity march will be included in an upcoming exhibit at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Julian has been covering the Black Lives Matter movement throughout the United States, and his images have been exhibited at the Hammonds House Museum and Emory University. Read his interview with Atlanta’s Creative Loafing and visit his website, Candid in Atlanta.
The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation received our first Telly Award thanks to this amazing “Refresh the World” video that Jolene Loetscher (1997) and her husband Nate created for us! While Jolene and Nate were the award winners, they were kind enough to send us our own replicate.
Albert Lawrence (2003), correspondent for ABC7 news in Los Angeles, got some social media tips from comedian Kevin Hart while at the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal the other day.
Daria Torres (1992), strategy consultant and the managing partner at Walls Torres Group, shared keys to successful organizational growth in Business Innovators Magazine. Daria also helped lead the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation’s 2013 strategic planning efforts.
Elise Stefanik (2002), America’s youngest congresswoman to date, was selected to chair a hearing last month of the House Republican Policy Committee entitled “Millenials and the GOP: Learning from America’s emerging leaders to shape tomorrow’s Republican agenda.” Click here to learn more and watch video from the hearing.
Justin Pinn (2009) has been named the next Assistant Director of the Georgetown Scholarship Program at Georgetown University where he will advise, mentor, and help 600+ first generation college students. He has also been named to the Board of Advisers for the Venture Academy Charter School in Minneapolis and was selected by Legacy Miami magazine as one of “South Florida’s 40 Under 40 Black Leaders of Today and Tomorrow for 2015.”
Carrie Regan (1989), Jany Brown (1992), and Kacie Darden (2001) participated in the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon – an Olympic Distance, with a 1500 meter swim, 42 km bike, and 10k run. They had beautiful weather and Jany and Carrie’s finish times were within seconds of each other. After the race they learned through Facebook that Kacie participated as well. Jany and Carrie took this photo for us to prove, as Carrie said, “that us ‘senior’ Coke Scholars can still represent at feats of athletic prowess!”