Allanah Austin was in the chemical engineering department at the University of Minnesota when her university advisor/professor contacted her with exciting news.
“I received an e-mail from Dr. (Danny) Hubbard telling me I was a finalist for the ETS Scholarship,” said Austin, a chemistry major.
“I was like ‘oh-my-goodness, oh-my-goodness’ because I knew that this was a really big deal.”
“Since entering the chemistry program Ms. Austin has risen to a leadership role by example,” said Hubbard, the head of the chemistry department.
“Austin focuses on her studies and shows interest in acquiring the knowledge and skill set needed to become a successful scientist.”
Just a week later, she had an official letter from the Educational Teaching Service saying she had won a presidential scholarship for historically black college and university students worth $23,000. She’s one of eight nationwide to receive the recognition.
“I read the letter and I was grinning from ear,” said Austin, a senior from Hemphill, Texas. “I was awestruck for a moment, it was unreal.”
The Educational Testing Service Presidential Scholarship recognizes rising juniors and seniors at HBCUs who have established a record of outstanding academic performance in college, both in their major of student and leadership.
The awards are merit-based full tuition scholarships.
“The ETS Presidential HBCU Scholarship is a very prestigious award,” said Lenora Green, the senior director of the Center of Advocacy and Philanthropy for Educational Testing Service. “The competition is intense, and only those students who have achieved at the highest levels in their academic pursuits are eligible for the scholarship. This is not only a testament to them, but to their institutions as well.”
Austin said the scholarship is a blessing because she really wanted to play for the university’s women’s basketball team but she knew an athletic scholarship was unlikely because she has had two knee surgeries.
Austin transferred to Grambling State after two years at Lon Morris College. She played the small forward position until she injured her knee for the second consecutive year.
While many ruled her out, she moved to Grambling, started rehabilitation and became a manager for Grambling’s women’s basketball team. She is practicing with the team during the offseason, hoping to earn a spot on the team.
Women’s head basketball coach Patricia Cage-Bibbs said it is not whether Austin is mentally ready to play but physically after sitting out for a year.
But she hopeful that Austin will pull through and become an official team member. “Anything Allanah (Austin) goes for she will get,” she said.
Austin said she is looking forward to two exciting dates, the first official day of practice and a forum she will attend with other ETS Scholarship recipients in Princeton, N.J., early next year.
Austin will develop a presentation of a topic related to her major of study. ETS will cover her expenses for participation in the conference. She is excited about the opportunity to meet some of the representatives of the ETS Scholarship.
“This is amazing. I imagined good things happening to me, but, I didn’t expect them to give me this opportunity,” said the 2009 salutatorian of Hemphill High School.
Austin explained that transferring to Grambling State was a great decision; she received the ETS scholarship and has the opportunity to play basketball for the university’s women’s basketball team.
“It’s a faith thing for me,” said Austin. “I am really big on God’s plan for me. There is no point of me worrying, I put my faith in him and I just do what I have to do.”