A Note from the President
Dear Friends of Samuel Ready,
Someone asked me recently, “What makes a Samuel Ready scholar and what sets these young women apart from others?"
While each of our 28 scholars (and the alumnae that have come before them) are beautiful and strong in their own dynamic and diverse ways they all have one thing in common — they are committed to their education no matter what challenges come their way.
It is no secret that the last eight months have dealt each of us our own sets of obstacles — whether in the form of Covid-19 related illnesses, the heaviness of racial injustice in our society magnified by a number of recent events, or the prolonged separation from loved ones — we are all adjusting to our new daily realities. But through perseverance and the support of others, we are finding small joys in each day.
And at Samuel Ready, we are seeing all of these things in action through our scholars. By the time this letter has made its way to you our 43rd cohort of 28 Samuel Ready scholars are already well into their first semester of school. While learning might look different at our supported schools, our scholars are innovating and embracing what learning looks like to each of them. They are showing up to classes via Zoom calls, attending classes on campus in smaller groups, and connecting with their friends and teachers while wearing masks and social distancing. But the most important thing that they continue to demonstrate is resilience, and to me these traits are all part of what has brought these bright young women to this point in their academic careers.
So, when asked, "What defines and makes a Samuel Ready scholar?" It is simple. She is a young woman whose mind is set on her education. She has overcome personal obstacles and is not afraid to tackle the ones that her future may hold. She is unique and she is supported and supportive. And she will succeed.
As you read through our most recent newsletter and meet some of our scholars, past and present, I am sure you will agree. It is with my most sincere wish for them as they embark on this academic year to enjoy not only the newness of this situation but to know that they are supported by their friends and teachers within their school community but also all of us at Samuel Ready who are cheering for their success every day.
Serena Cooper's Convocation
Each year at The Bryn Mawr School, every senior delivers a 15-minute convocation speech to the student body and special guests. We are delighted to celebrate Serena Cooper for her outstanding job in presenting her speech. Serena shared the challenges of working a part-time job and navigating school and student life over the last four years. Serena is an exceptional young woman who has overcome significant personal challenges and adversity to become an excellent student and respected leader in the Bryn Mawr community. She is currently the president of the Black Student Union (BSU) and "All School" vice president. Serena also started an American Sign Language (ASL) club at Bryn Mawr, sharing her experience as a child of two deaf parents. In addition, she has competed in track and field, served as a student mentor and Little School volunteer, and participated in a two-week Bryn Mawr service trip to Thailand and Cambodia.
Institute of Notre Dame Transition
Samuel Ready was saddened by the closing of the Institute of Notre Dame (IND) this past spring. Knowing that our scholars have long benefited from attending IND, our board of directors sought a solution that would ensure our young women would continue with their private school education and their Samuel Ready scholarships. We are happy to share that for the current academic year, we were able to continue to provide funding to IND in support of our seven legacy IND scholars who are attending one of a number of Catholic schools in our area. In addition, one scholar transferred to Bryn Mawr School and has been welcomed into their cohort of Samuel Ready scholars.
Zawadi Rucks-Ahidiana is a graduate of Bryn Mawr School, which she attended starting in 6th grade thanks to a Samuel Ready scholarship. Today, Zawadi is an Assistant Professor of sociology at University at Albany, State University of New York, but she didn’t always want to be a college professor. After Bryn Mawr, she attended University of Maryland at College Park where she completed a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Policy. She was interested in environmental health and justice, but was unsure what career path best suited her interests and strengths, so she applied to teach English in France as a Foreign Language Assistant and worked for two years in a town in Lower Normandy.
During her time in France, she realized her interest in social policy, particularly around issues related to poverty, and decided to pursue a career in evaluation research. She worked at MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization based in New York City, on the evaluation of workforce development programs, and at the Community College Research Center at Teachers College on student success courses and online teaching. However, she eventually opted to pursue a new direction first completing a Master’s degree in Public Administration at New York University as a part-time student and then applying to PhD programs in Sociology.
Zawadi completed her PhD at University of California, Berkeley in 2018 and then spent one year in a postdoctoral fellowship in the Sociology department at New York University. In her current position at University at Albany, she continues her studies of racial inequality in wealth, gentrification, and higher education, while teaching courses on race and ethnicity, and segregation. Her scholarship draws heavily on her experiences growing up in Baltimore City and seeing the inequality between the haves and have nots. She also leverages her position to serve as a role model and mentor for the next generation of curious minds.
Quick Questions With Our Busy Graduates
Samuel Ready Scholarship Independent School: Roland Park Country School
Graduation Year: 2002
Update your fellow classmates: I've been in Atlanta for the past 5 years and working as a Supervisor at an engineering consulting firm. COVID-19 made for an interesting summer! I've taken up running although I wouldn't consider myself a runner and made a few road trips to the beach. I'm most excited about being invited to serve on the Inclusion and Diversity Council at my company.
High School: Institute of Notre Dame
Graduation Year: 2012
Update your fellow classmates: After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Elizabethtown College in 2016, I returned back to Baltimore and started to work at Baltimore Country Club as the Membership and Communications Assistant. After a few years of working at BCC, I was recently promoted to Membership and Communications Coordinator in March 2020. Additionally I was awarded as the March 2020 Staff Member of the Month for my efforts in bringing programs and real time engagement to our members to the Club’s social media pages during the stay at home order.
Back to School - 2020
At Samuel Ready, we have a few traditions that are dear to our hearts. Each spring and fall we gather with our scholars, new and returning, and host a Tea and a Picnic. This is a long-held tradition that is our way of helping to foster "community" amongst our scholars and celebrating all that they have accomplished and all that they will become. Because of the global pandemic, we had to forgo our much-loved get-together this fall. In its place, our Events and Awards Committee, chaired by Sue Murk, sent letters and school gift cards to our scholars’ homes to provide encouragement and support during a time of great uncertainty. And because we wanted to make sure our 28 scholars felt the support and cheers from all of us, we created and shared a Kudoboard, where our current board members and alumnae shared warm thoughts and well wishes for a great school year.
Fare Thee Well Fondly and a Warm Welcome
Please join us in congratulating Anne Hemmindinger, Director of Advancement for Samuel Ready Scholarships, Inc., on her recent retirement. For the last ten years, Anne has tirelessly led our fundraising efforts while also supporting our board of trustees and scholars. We will miss Anne and her never-ceasing love for our scholars who join us in wishing her a restful and happy retirement.
We also thank our departing Board Members for their service to Samuel Ready Foundation:
- Joanne Bartlett, Supported School Trustee, St. Paul's School for Girls
- Diane Hutchins, Supported School Trustee, Roland Park Country School
- Susan Legg, Supported School Trustee, Institute of Notre Dame
Please join us in welcoming our new Samuel Ready Scholarships, Inc. board members:
- Ranak K. Jasani
- Christopher C. Jeffries
- Dr. Yvette Mozie-Ross
- Gwelan Sheridan
- Dr. Gina McKnight-Smith
- Nina Booth, Supported School Trustee, Roland Park Country School
- Joan Smith, Supported School Trustee, Saint Paul's School for Girls
- Christine Szala, Supported School Trustee, Institute of Notre Dame