Webster University Awards Largest of the Four Dr. Donald M. Suggs Scholarships

Webster emphasizes commitment to diversity for undergraduate students

The Perez Family at the St. Louis American Education Event

Pictured are the Perez family at the St. Louis American Foundation's Salute to Excellence in Education Scholarship and Awards Gala- (l-r) Jashawna, Maria, Olivia and Tony.

ST. LOUIS – Freshman Olivia Perez has been selected as the recipient of the first ever Webster University Dr. Donald M. Suggs Scholarship. Perez will receive up to $100,000 toward her Webster education during the next four years.

Suggs is a St. Louis area oral surgeon, publisher of the St. Louis American newspaper, patron of the arts, distinguished community leader and former member of Webster University's Board of Trustees. The scholarship will be formally presented on Sept. 13 at the 26th annual St. Louis American Foundation's Salute to Excellence in Education Scholarship and Awards Gala.

“Dr. Suggs is a respected leader who has advocated for people, policies, and practices that enhance opportunity, facilitate inclusion, and eliminate inequities,” said Elizabeth “Beth” J. Stroble, president of Webster University. “Webster University is honored to make this tangible commitment to excellence in education in Dr. Suggs' name. Olivia embodies Webster's focus on developing students' individual excellence and global citizenship. She exhibits superior performance in both academics and extracurricular activities and already understands the importance of individual performance and teamwork.”

Perez's admissions essay focused on her concerns about the rising violence in black neighborhoods in Chicago during the past year, the large number of children living in single-parent homes in many of those neighborhoods, and her belief that better access to education in those communities would eventually reverse those trends.

The Suggs Scholarship is designed to increase the recruitment and retention of undergraduate students who typically are underrepresented at institutions of higher education. To be considered for the award, applicants must have an ACT score of 27 or higher, which is equivalent to an SAT score of 1200 or higher. Students who receive the scholarship must take at least 13 credit hours each semester, successfully complete 26 units per year, and maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or above.

The new Webster scholarship is the sixth Suggs Scholarship established at a St. Louis-area university. The University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri State University, Southeast Missouri State University, Harris-Stowe State University and St. Louis Community College already have Suggs Scholarships; however, Webster's is the largest of the Suggs scholarships.

Perez was notified that she was the recipient of the award just before school started. She is a media literacy major and attended Eureka high School. She was a member of the Missouri Academic All State Dance Team, a member of her high school's JV Poms team, was a freshman orientation leader, an AP Scholar and a Renaissance Member. In her free time, she enjoys ballet and hip hop dance lessons.

With the Webster University Donald M. Suggs Scholarship, Webster further expresses its commitment to enhancing diversity, inclusion, and success for all students. Webster is recognized nationally for providing an environment in which diverse graduate students can be successful and earn degrees.

Webster University's graduate degree-seeking student population represents the largest number of individuals of diverse backgrounds among all traditional, nonprofit U.S. higher education institutions, according to annual surveys published in “Diverse: Issues in Higher Education” (DIHE). The "Top 100 Degree Producers" survey, the latest published in August 2013, is the only national report of graduate degrees earned by African American, Hispanic, Asian American and American Indian students by U.S. colleges and universities.

Webster has consistently achieved top rankings since DIHE began publishing the survey in 1991, and ranks first among U.S. nonprofit, private institutions in graduating master's-level African-American and Total Minority Students for All Disciplines Combined, including first for total minorities in Human Resources Management.