Aaron Porter, journalism alumnus, creates scholarship for black academics
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 5, 2021) – In an effort to have a positive impact on his community, a University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information alumnus helped start a scholarship foundation for underprivileged black academics.
Like so many others, Aaron Porter, a journalism major, struggled financially throughout his college career. However, he and his cousins sought to create a solution that would relieve students facing the same burden.
In the first months of 2020, Porter and his cousins, Darrell Williams and Andrew Porter, began researching and planning how to set up a scholarship fund. On December 1, they launched the Lawson Porter Scholarship Foundation, named after their grandfather, who instilled generosity into the family.
The national scholarship aims to help black academics like them afford higher education anywhere. Unlike many other merit-based scholarships designated for certain majors, this scholarship is open to students of all fields of study with a GPA of at least 2.0. Porter noted that financial availability is an issue for many black households, so this scholarship expands the accessibility of financial aid.
“Being someone with limited resources, someone who has had to take out student loans, someone who is in debt as we speak, we really wanted to focus on how we can create an avenue for black students in all aspects of college and learning, “Porter said,” Somehow give them the opportunity not to have to worry about ‘can I pay for this’ or’ can I pay for this ”or“ can I do this ”or“ can I do this ”. They can simply become students.
Porter came to campus as a calm, stranger kid who hardly knew anyone and didn’t know what to specialize in. From semester to semester he still wondered if he could continue in the UK. In fact, without an unexpected one-year grant, he was sure he would have to return home to attend community college in Indianapolis.
Despite these obstacles, Porter became a leader on the UK campus. He became Resident Advisor, singer in the UK Black Voices Gospel Choir and President and Vice-President of the UK Section of the National Association of Black Journalists. In 2019, he also won the NAACP UK Chapter Citizen of the Year Award for his work with the Black Student Advisory Council.
Porter is now a public affairs assistant for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service for the State of Mississippi. Despite this new position and its added responsibilities, he knew it was still important to keep giving back.
“Aaron is one of the best humans I know. His passion for social and racial justice, his love for his community and his unwavering faith are always at the center of his concerns, ”said Carol Taylor-Shim, Director of the UK Equity, Inclusion and Equity Office. social justice (formerly Bias Incident Support Services) and one of Porter’s biggest mentors in college. “Aaron always honors and protects humanity from others; it is the center of who he is. What a gift he gave us by choosing the UK and we are much better at it. “
Porter’s dedication to supporting his black comrades is something he shares and discusses regularly with his cousins. Black awareness and appreciation not only fueled their scholarship recipients, but every other aspect of the foundation as well. Everything on their website, from the logo to the color scheme, is “inspired by black, imagined by black, created by black,” Porter said. The application process also requires applicants to create a submission piece that “captures some form of Afrocentric history” in order to address the lack of black history being taught in education systems.
“What’s most impressive about Aaron is that self-recognition has never been at the heart of his work. He was always concerned about the opportunities he created for other students, especially students of color who are marginalized in predominantly white institutions, ”said Mel Coffee, former faculty member of the School of Journalism and media and current director of the Capital News Service Broadcast Bureau at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism. “Aaron had a fluid relationship with students and administrators that allowed him to create positive dialogue and change. He’s the student I loved having in class, a colleague I admire in his post-student status, and a man I’m proud to call my friend as well.
Although the scholarship foundation is still in its infancy, Porter said he has already received donations from across the country from friends and colleagues to complete strangers. While putting his journalism background to good use as the Scholarship Foundation’s social media content manager, he looks forward to the day when he can disperse scholarship funds as the foundation’s treasurer. He hopes his work will allow him to help others, just as his support system had done for him.
“You might never know my name, you might never know who I am, and I’m okay with that,” Porter said. “But if deep down I know I’ve had an impact on society somewhere, I think that really motivates me, and that’s what drives the three of us to do the work that we are committed to. do with the scholarship foundation. I will take advantage of it seven days a week and twice on Sundays. “
If you would like more information about donating or applying to the Lawson Porter Scholarship Foundation, visit https://thelpsf.org/.