Scholar Alumna Joins Board of Directors

TSue Suhhe Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation’s Board of Directors is excited to welcome Sue Suh, a 1992 Coca-Cola Scholar, as the newest addition to the Board. Sue is Chief Talent Officer at The Rockefeller Foundation in New York City. Previously, Sue served with the U.S. Departments of State and Defense in Washington DC, New York, and Tripoli, Libya – managing issues such as nuclear nonproliferation, UN sanctions, public affairs, and overall U.S.-UN relations. She is passionate about the positive impact of the performing arts and sports on communities around the world, and sits on the Boards of the Classical Theatre of Harlem and Special Olympics Asia Pacific. Sue absolutely loved Princeton University (Politics BA) and Columbia University (Political Science MA), and was so grateful to earn a Fulbright award to South Korea and a Presidential Management Fellowship with the U.S. federal government. Sue is a former member of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation’s Alumni Advisory Board. Currently, she is also pursuing a PhD with Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, and she is a big fan of the NY Mets and her husband Chad.

Journey: 2016 Scholars Weekend

Follow the 28th class of Coca-Cola Scholars as they traveled to Atlanta for the 2016 Scholars Weekend! Watch this video that opened our Scholars Banquet on March 31, 2016, created by Mud Mile.

These incredible 150 high school seniors were selected from applicants across the country to receive a $20,000 college scholarship. They are true visionary leaders who are refreshing the world through their passion to make the world a better place.

See the full listing of our 2016 Scholars.

10 Questions for CCSF’s New Director of the Undergraduate Scholars Program

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation is excited to announce that Jamie Williams has joined the staff as Director of the Undergraduate Scholars Program, the first position of its kind at the Foundation. This new role is dedicated to maintaining the energy, excitement, and connectivity of Scholars Weekend through each Scholar’s college years by creating unique opportunities for them to engage with the Foundation and each other.

Previously serving as Director of the National Scholars Program and Associate Director of the Honors College at Clemson University, Jamie brings 15 years of experience administering enrichment programs for undergraduate scholars, mentoring high-achieving students, and collaborating with stakeholders to support student success to the Foundation.

As part of Jamie’s first day at CCSF, we asked our intern and 2015 Coca-Cola Scholar, Paul Serrato, to grill him with some pretty tough questions! Read on to learn more about the newest member of the Coca-Cola Scholars team.


Paul: What is the first thing people should know about you?

Jamie: (chuckles) A minute and a half of dead air! … I think in terms of what I do, my profession, is that I love working with students. I was a fairly high-achieving undergraduate student and didn’t really see that as a career choice, or didn’t know that was a career choice, until I got to my later part of college and really wanted to stay in college for the rest of my life, working with that population of students. I really like working with students who are motivated, have a goal, like working towards that goal, and enjoy working with others, and that’s the thing that’s most intriguing about this position with the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation – working with students who are similarly motivated. I feel like I’ll be working with 600 mini-mes who are working towards their own professional, personal, and leadership goals.

Paul: Why did you want to work at the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation?

Jamie: To fuel my addiction to Diet Coke! No, I’ve known Mark for about 15 years and got to know some of the other staff last year though a professional organization. They are a good group of people, and I could see myself fitting in with them personality wise. It was a good opportunity at the right time for a career change. I had been at Clemson for 14 years working with a scholars program and with honors college students, and I was ready for the next phase of my career. This way I am still working with college students. My life won’t be as divided into semesters as it has been for the last 20 years of my career, but instead I’ll have a broader canvas on which to work and to have an impact on advising and helping students make leadership and professional development connections and decisions as they go forward.

Paul: Could you tell us about your vision for your new position as Director of Undergraduate Programming and what this programming entails?

Jamie: The second part is going to be easy because I don’t know – I don’t know what it’s going to be yet. My vision is to make sure that there are plenty opportunities for current college Scholars to be able to connect with each other based on where they are in school, their majors, what their career 2015-08-10 15.39.56goals are, in addition to working with the rest of the staff and alumni to help them make good decisions and provide a strong mentoring network along the way. I think some of the best things that alumni can share with current Scholars are lessons they’ve learned the hard way or mistakes that they’ve made so that younger Scholars can avoid those similar mistakes and be further along the path by the time they graduate than maybe those alumni were at the time. The challenge of it is going to be that the Scholars themselves are obviously all over the country, and it’s not a matter of “We’re having a meeting tonight! Everybody come to this room and you’ll get pizza.” So I think finding out ways, like using the portal that’s in development, to make sure that we can build those connections. The way that’s going to work? I’m going to be calling on alumni and current Scholars to ask them: “What do you think we should be doing to support your leadership and professional development? What were your expectations of being chosen as a Coca-Cola Scholar? What can we do to help you meet those expectations?”  None of you are going to schools where you’re going to be in desperate need of mentoring. You’re going to good schools that have that. So what is the value added of being a Coca-Cola Scholar in terms of when you graduate you will not be just a Stanford graduate or a Harvard graduate or a UNC graduate, but a Coca-Cola Scholar graduate from those schools. So the first year I’m going to do a listening tour, which might be by email, phone calls, Skype, or in-person meetings, but getting Scholar feedback about what we should be doing. So you, the Scholars, get to tell me what to do basically. Don’t get carried away.

Paul: You’re at the 2018 Leadership Summit, and you have 7 hours to memorize 700 scholar names. How do you begin?

Jamie: Why haven’t I gotten the names before 7 hours? Okay, hazing – Coke Scholar hazing. Well, one of the things that I did when I was in high school, and I was valedictorian so it clearly worked, was that I put my notes under my pillow when I slept the night before a big test. Usually what I do too is in my previous roles working with scholars and honors recruits is that I do a lot of Facebook and Twitter stalking to get some names and faces together. Figuring out not just their names but where they’re from, what they think their major is going to be, what are some interesting things that they’ve done, and so get to know them as individuals and people and not just names on a list. But if I’ve got just the 7 hours, I’ll be spending just as much time with the A through B names, and then take a little bit of a break, and then the D through F names, take a bit of a break, so I’ll use a number of tactics to get the number of names down. But I’m hoping I’ll have more than those 7 hours. Unless there’s something I don’t know about. What have I gotten myself into here?

Paul: How long does it take you to scroll through Facebook before giving up?

Jamie: I’ve been on Facebook for—how long has Facebook been around—I have yet to give up! Are we Facebook friends yet? I know that they keep saying Facebook is going out. Twitter is the way it is, and Instagram, the Snapchat, and then hooziwhatzit, whatever it’s going to be next, but Facebook seems to me to be a fundamental communication tool. I gave it up a few years ago for Lent mainly out of spite because people didn’t think I could do it. And so some friends created a Facebook group called “I do not believe Jamie Williams can stay off of Facebook for the entirety of Lent”, and my boss created a group “I do believe that Jamie Williams can stay off.” Not only did I stay off the entirety of Lent, I stayed off one extra day, just again out of spite. That is when I got hooked on Twitter. I needed to refresh and see new words.

Paul: Who was the first Coke Scholar you met?

PaulJamie: I advised an honors college student at Clemson named Kate Gasparro, and she’s the first that I first got to know well. I’m sure I’ve gotten to know another Coke Scholar, but Kate was probably the one that I know most well and advise and feel like I had a very good advisory, mentor connection with as an undergrad. I met her 6 years ago. I’m sure if I went through the list, I would find myself saying,“Oh yeah, I knew that person.” You know a lot of times people don’t like to say “I’m a Coke Scholar” because they don’t want to seem like they’re bragging. I’m sure that I’ve met some, but I didn’t know that they were Coke Scholars.


[Editor’s note: An hour post-interview, Jamie noted that Matt Clemmens was indeed the first Coca-Cola Scholar he had met. So thorough!]

Paul: You are planning a birthday party at the office for one of your co-workers. What kind of cake do you bring?

Jamie: Well, first I would have to find out if there were any allergies, any kind of gluten issues unless the office and staff find out surreptitiously from others in the staff what flavors do they like. Ice cream cake versus not. My favorite kind of cake is anything with a good buttercream frosting.

Paul: What is your superpower?

Jamie: What is it now or what I wish it were to be? What am I able to do? I have an ability, an infinite ability to recall things that just don’t matter. So I’m a good bar trivia partner to have. I was people’s phone-a-friend on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” because I can remember who won like best supporting actress Oscar in 1983, those kind of things. Not real life. The one I wish I had probably was telepathy just so when you’re having conversations you can be more efficient and get to the point and figure out what the person is wanting from you. So telepathy, I think, would be a great superpower to have.

Paul: What is your favorite Coke product and why?

Jamie: I think Diet Coke. I don’t know why on that one. It’s just delicious! Although I have started getting into Coke Zero a little bit when traveling abroad this past year. Diet Coke or Coke Light tastes different in Europe and in Africa, where I’ve been recently, than Diet Coke tastes in the States. But Coke Zero abroad tastes like Diet Coke here, and I’ve done some transitive reverse properties, so that Coke Zero tastes good to me here. So I like Coke Zero, it’s kind of gaining on Diet Coke for me right now.

Paul: Is there anything else that you would like to share with the Coke Scholar community?

Jamie: I’m looking forward to getting to know as many of alumni and Scholars as possible, and if anybody has a great idea or something they think we should be doing, don’t hesitate to call me or email me or Tweet me. If you want to Facebook friend me, I’m open to that. I’m not saying that just because that’s what you say at a new job; I really want to get the feedback from Scholars and alumni as well to figure out how I can do my job to support you and your paths to success.


Coca-Cola Announces New Selection Process of 150 $20,000 Scholarship Winners

In 1986, the Coca-Cola System announced the establishment of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation to shape a better future for the communities in which we do business through the support of exceptionally talented high school seniors’ aspirations for higher education. As we celebrate the Foundation’s 25th Class this year, we acknowledge that it has been our good fortune to have invested more than $50 million in 5,250 students who represent the most promising qualities of American youth throughout this country: academic excellence, positive leadership and a dedication to service. These students have a vision for positive change that is truly shaping a better future for our world and leaving a lasting legacy for generations to come.

To invest all we can in our Scholars, Coca-Cola remains committed to keeping our scholarships meaningful and relevant. Over the last 10 years, the cost of education at a four year institution has increased dramatically. We recognize the impact of this change and the evolving financial aid needs of students today.

Beginning in the fall of 2013, we will modify our selection process to award 150 Coca-Cola Scholars at $20,000 scholarship each, totaling $3 million in scholarship awards each year. This is an increase of 100 $20,000 scholarship winners from previous years. These 150 Coca-Cola Scholars will travel to Atlanta to celebrate and commend the noble impact they have already had in their communities. This commitment will support Scholars as they build better communities and, over time, a better world. It is our privilege to serve these young leaders.

Q & A

How is the selection process changing?
The initial online application and the Semifinalist process will remain the same. The online application will yield 2,000 Semifinalists who will be asked to complete an additional Semifinalist application. A reading committee made up of college admissions counselors and high school college advisors will review each application and select 250 Regional Finalists.  Each of the 250 Regional Finalists will then be asked to take part in a regional interview.  These Regional Finalists will be evaluated based on both the interview and the Semifinalist application, and 150 Coca-Cola Scholars will be selected to receive a $20,000 scholarship and travel to Atlanta to attend Scholars Weekend.

Why the change?
The cost of college has increased dramatically over the past ten years.  In an effort to keep our scholarships relevant, we are increasing the number of $20,000 scholarship winners by 100 recipients.  The Coca-Cola system believes that investing in students who are leaders, both academically and in service to others, will result in positive, lasting change and sustainable communities.  Awarding all Coca-Cola Scholars $20,000 will develop a cohesive cohort of positive change agents and visionary leaders.

What will the regional interviews be like?
Once a student is designated a Regional Finalist, an invitation will be sent to schedule a regional interview.  Depending on where the student is located, the interview will be in person or via web conference.  To leverage the great resource and asset of our past scholarship recipients, we are excited to announce that Coca-Cola Scholar Alumni will be conducting these regional interviews with the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation staff.  This will also extend the selection process into the communities served by Coca-Cola bottlers and it will further enhance bottler investment in their communities.

What is happening to the former regional scholarships?
All Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation awards will now be raised to the $20,000 level.

2013-14 Timeline

August 2013 Online Application Opens
October 31 Online Application Deadline
Mid-November Semifinalists Notified
December 27 Semifinalist Application Deadline
Mid-January 2014 Regional Finalists Notified
Late January – Early February Regional Interviews
Late February Coca-Cola Scholars Notified
April 3-5 Coca-Cola Scholars Weekend in Atlanta


2013 Banquet Celebrates 25th Class of Coca-Cola Scholars

Our annual tradition of celebrating and welcoming the new class of Coca-Cola Scholars was held last week. The 2013 Banquet featured renowned journalist Tom Brokaw as an honored guest and the Keynote Speaker. Here are a few videos from that night.

The Banquet in Atlanta, Georgia, was opened by Jourdan Urbach (’09). Jourdan was later joined by Karen Baluso in another moving piece.

This video kicked off the induction of the Class of 2013 Coca-Cola Scholars welcoming them to the 5,000+ strong alumni family.

Tom Brokaw addressed the 2013 Coca-Cola Scholars Banquet, welcoming the 25th Class of Scholars. Mr. Brokaw was later joined by Scholars Jamie Lathan (’96), Ryan McCannell (’89), and Kate Sullivan (’94) in a great conversation about education, global development, and the global advancement of women.

Committ Celebrate Connect

Commit, Celebrate, Connect

Committ Celebrate Connect

2012 Coca-Cola Scholars with The Coca-Cola Company Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent, CEO of Coca-Cola Bottling Company United/CCSF Chairman Claude Nielsen and special guest, world renowned actor and philanthropist Morgan Freeman.

Last week, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation welcomed the 24th Class of Coca-Cola Scholars into a family that will last a lifetime. These 253 high school seniors are characterized by their academic excellence, community leadership and most importantly, their desire to make the world a better place.

This year’s class of Scholars represents 248 U.S. high schools across all 50 states, selected from more than 80,000 applicants. Fifty of these Scholars will receive four-year $20,000 scholarships and 200 will receive four-year scholarships.

Since its founding 26 years ago through a partnership between the U.S. Coca-Cola bottling community and The Coca-Cola Company, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation (CCSF) has provided more than $48 million in scholarships to 5,000 students nationwide. Last year, in honor of Coca-Cola’s 125th Anniversary, system leaders helped ensure this legacy will continue when they announced a pledge of $25 million in new funding to the Foundation.

Celebrating Young Difference-Makers

The celebration of this year’s class of Coca-Cola Scholars began last Thursday with a special ceremony uniting more than 1,100 leaders, partners, friends and family of Coca-Cola including Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent, CEO of Coca-Cola Bottling Company United/CCSF Chairman Claude Nielsen, Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal, UN Ambassador Andrew Young and special guest, world renowned actor and philanthropist Morgan Freeman.

During the event, the Scholars were recognized in a procession and then spent time amongst all of the guests, sharing stories of how they have already been working to change their communities for the better, from volunteering with local charitable organizations to starting up some of their own cause-related programs.

Committ Celebrate ConnectA centerpiece of the event was a special on-stage Q&A between Kent and Freeman featuring questions submitted by the Scholars. The Oscar-award winning actor, who spent extra time with the Scholars before the ceremony, discussed his journey to professional acclaim, his passionate support of education and the importance of following your dreams.  He left the Scholars with these final words: “Just don’t stop – if you don’t ever quit, I guarantee, you’re going to get there.”

Kent wrapped up the evening with more words of encouragement for the fearless young leaders, as he told them with confidence, “You have the power to change the world forever.”

An Enduring Commitment to Community

Committ Celebrate Connect

Coca-Cola Scholar Alumni in Texas partnered with Keep Houston Beautiful for a clean-up at Japhet Creek

To acknowledge the special commitment to community that all Coca-Cola Scholars share, each year the new class participates in a community service project during their weekend in Atlanta. As a perfect way to celebrate Earth Month, the Scholars painted 75 rain barrels (55-gallon syrup concentrate drums donated by Coca-Cola) for water conservation. Twenty of the barrels will be auctioned off on eBay with proceeds going to the 2012 Coca-Cola Scholars Leadership Summit and the rest will be donated to local charities and schools.

For the first time, Coca-Cola Scholar Alumni and their Coca-Cola families across the country joined in this tradition by organizing local community service events of their own. As part of the first “Coca-Cola Scholars National Day of Service,” 17 events are taking place across our U.S. regions, ranging from rain barrel workshops to beach clean-ups to active healthy living activities. More than 500 Coca-Cola Scholar Alumni are participating along with hundreds more Coca-Cola employees, partners, friends and families.

A Connection That Lasts a Lifetime

When they arrive on college campuses across the country this fall, the 24th class of Coca-Cola Scholars will be welcomed by upperclassmen who share the same distinction. And after they graduate, they will join an extended family of more than 5,000 Coca-Cola Scholar Alumni who stay connected through regional councils and special events. They also stay in touch with their local Coca-Cola bottling facilities to organize community service efforts and make an even greater impact together.

This lasting connection, camaraderie and sense of family sets the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation apart from other scholarship programs.

“Our goal is to foster enrichment opportunities and continue our relationships with these students not only through their four years of college, but many years later as they start their careers and become leaders in their communities,” said Mark Davis, President of CCSF.  “Scholars tell us that while the money is great, the relationships they form are more valuable than anything else. Because of our incredible Coca-Cola family in the U.S., mentorships often lead to job opportunities, and connections create community service opportunities and lifelong friendships. I’m proud and humbled to be part of such a powerful program.”

J. Mark Davis Named International Honorary Member of Phi Theta Kappa

Jackson, MS – J. Mark Davis, President of the Coca−Cola Scholars Foundation and Treasurer of the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation Board of Trustees, will be named an International Honorary Member of Phi Theta Kappa during the Society’s 2011 Annual Convention in Seattle April 7-9.

This recognition is considered the highest honor provided a non-member by Phi Theta Kappa. Nomination for the award is provided by the Executive Director for consideration by the Executive Committee, comprised of five student international officers. This award is not given every year, only when an individual has been identified who has over time provided extraordinary support to Phi Theta Kappa. Over the nearly 100 years of Phi Theta Kappa’s existence, only 35 recipients have been named.

Some past recipients of the award include Tom Curly, former publisher of USA TODAY and current President of the Associated Press; Bob Dubill, former executive editor of USA TODAY; Dr. George Boggs, former president of AACC; and Dr. Douglas W. Foard, former secretary of Phi Beta Kappa.

“For more than a decade, as President of the Coca−Cola Scholars Foundation, Mark Davis has demonstrated keen interest in and provided financial support to our hard-working, determined, disciplined, and outstanding members,” said Dr. Rod Risley, Executive Director of Phi Theta Kappa. “First, in 2001 he supported the establishment of the Centennial Scholars program, marking the 100th anniversary of community colleges, which has continued as the New Century Scholar Program that recognizes 52 students with stipends of $2,000 each. The program is co-sponsored with the Coca−Cola Foundation. A total of $1,100,000 has been awarded to our students through this program – $550,000 coming from the Coca−Cola Scholars Foundation.

“Davis also approached Phi Theta Kappa with the idea of establishing the Coca−Cola Community College Academic Team — providing 50 Gold, 50 Silver, 50 Bronze Scholars, and 150 finalists — with $337,500 annually in scholarships. In 2011 rather than awarding 150 finalists, Davis requested that the funds to be directed to Phi Theta Kappa’s Leaders of Promise Scholarship Program. This year a total of 180 Coca−Cola Leaders of Promise scholarships will be awarded — 30 funded by Phi Theta Kappa and 150 by the Coca−Cola Scholars Foundation. Over the past 11 years, the Coca−Cola Scholars Foundation alone has provided more than $1.5 million in scholarship funds for outstanding community college students.

“I am truly honored by this recognition. I have great admiration for the work of Phi Theta Kappa, as it is truly focused on providing the best experiences for students at two-year institutions,” Davis said. “To be made an honorary member of Phi Theta Kappa is very humbling.

“Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, is the largest honor society in American higher education with 1,270 chapters on two-year and community college campuses in all 50 of the United States, Canada, Germany, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, the British Virgin Islands, the United Arab Emirates and U.S. territorial possessions. More than 2.5 million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 125,000 students inducted annually.

Coca−Cola Scholars Foundation Names Semifinalists for Class of 2011!

For Immediate Release

Prestigious Scholarship Program
Will Award $3 Million in April 2011

ATLANTA, November 29, 2010 – The Coca−Cola Scholars Foundation has recognized 2,100 exceptional students as semifinalists for the Foundation’s Class of 2011. In April 2011, the Foundation will award $3 million in scholarships.

“As a leading scholarship provider, we recognize our role in helping young people achieve their college goals,” said Mark Davis, president of the Foundation. “With the economy continuing to affect many students ability to attend the college of their choice, it is critical that we stay the course. The Coca−Cola Scholars Foundation received nearly 71,000 applications this year, and the semifinalists are truly some of the most accomplished students in the country.”

Semifinalists were chosen from an initial applicant pool representing approximately 26,000 high schools nationwide. As semifinalists, students must submit additional information that will be reviewed in January 2011 by a committee comprised of 30 educators from high schools and universities throughout the United States. If advanced, the students will be among a total of 252 finalists who will travel to Atlanta April 14 – 17, 2011 to attend the Coca−Cola Scholars Weekend. During their visit they will attend a final interview process that will determine whether they are designated as either a National or Regional Scholar. The 50 National Scholars will each receive a $20,000 scholarship award, while the 200 Regional Scholars will receive a $10,000 scholarship. Two additional $20,000 scholarships are awarded by the Coca−Cola Scholars Foundation, including the Coca−Cola Emory Scholarship and the Sandy Williams Alumni Legacy Scholarship.

The Coca−Cola Scholars Foundation, a joint effort of Coca−Cola Bottlers across America and The Coca−Cola Company, is one of the largest and most recognized corporate-sponsored, achievement scholarship programs of its kind in the United States. With the 2010 Class of Coca−Cola Scholars, the foundation will have awarded more than 4,700 Coca−Cola Scholars with more than $44 million in scholarships. The program was created 25 years ago in 1986 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Coca−Cola and to establish a legacy for the education of tomorrow’s leaders through college scholarships.

Coca−Cola Scholars Foundation Seeks Applicants For Its 2011 Class

ATLANTA, – The Coca−Cola Scholars Foundation, a non-profit organization created to support the higher education of deserving high school seniors in the United States, is accepting college scholarship applications now through October 31, 2010 at

Each year the Coca−Cola Scholars Foundation awards a total of $3 million in achievement-based four-year college scholarships to 250 outstanding high school seniors from communities across the nation. The Foundation annually awards 200 Regional scholarships of $10,000 each and 50 National scholarships of $20,000 each. The Coca−Cola Scholars Foundation evaluates applicants on the basis of demonstrated leadership in academics, school, community and civic activities, as well as personal character and the motivation to serve and succeed.

Applications are available at and must be completed online and submitted by October 31, 2010 of the student’s senior year. Criteria for the application and frequently asked questions are also available on the website or by calling (800) 306-2653 for more information. The scholarship is open to all high school seniors in the United States.

The Coca−Cola Scholars Program, which will mark its 23nd year of awarding scholarships with the Scholars Class of 2011, is one of the most-recognized and respected corporate sponsored scholarships in America. The program was created in 1986 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Coca−Cola and to establish a legacy for the education of tomorrow’s leaders through college scholarships. Including the 2010 Class of Coca−Cola Scholars, there are now 4,529 Coca−Cola Scholars who have benefited from nearly $42 million in scholarship awards.