Queen Latifah knows the value of a great education, and she remembers as a child watching the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) telecast, which was a telethon to help minority students further their education. And today, Queen Latifah honored Ashley Booth, a student who attended her Alma Mater, Irvington High School and went on to Johnson C. Smith in North Carolina.
“I always thrived in the sciences in high school, so I knew I wanted to major in biology,” says Ashley, “I’m in the UNCF STEM program, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. It was established to increase minority student interest, provide work force access, and reduce financial obstacles.”
One of the biggest challenges for college students is paying for it, and Ashley is no different. “I am not getting that much money, so I had to take out a Parent Plus Loan. I worry about not being able to pay for college. My mom is a single mom, and she is only able to give me about $2,500 annually. This summer, I am trying to get a job as camp counselor to help pay for college.
Dr. Michael Lomax, the CEO and President of UNCF, is helping Ashely and others stay in college. During its 70 years, UNCF has helped more than 400,000 students graduate from its partner HBCUs and currently provides over $100 million dollars in scholarships annually to over 10,000 minority students a year at 900 colleges and universities across the country.
Ashley Booth thought she was attending the show to just talk about and represent UNCF, but Queen Latifah had something else in store for this deserving student. Ashley has been named the recipient of the UNCF Rising Star Scholarship for $10,000. But, that wasn’t all, Queen Latifah’s friends and the executive producers of the show — Jada and Will Smith — heard about Ashley’s story and they matched that with another $10,000. But, in Jersey you go big or go home, so thanks to Sony, Ashley is going home with another $10,000.