Contact: Lindsay Hyman
Local Student Awarded Post-Graduate Scholarship of $20,000
Benny L. Cooper Will Pursue a Doctorate with Scholarship Assistance
WASHINGTON, August 28, 2009 – The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans is proud to announce that Benny L. Cooper of Oxford, N.C., has been awarded the Dennis Washington Achievement Scholarship to assist in funding his post-graduate education. Benny will receive a total of $20,000 from the scholarship program.
Benny was eligible for this scholarship because he is a 2005 alumnus of the Horatio Alger National Scholarship Program — an award given to high school seniors who overcame adversity and life challenges while excelling in academics and contributing to their communities. The Dennis Washington Achievement Scholarship is awarded to those who seek graduate and doctoral degrees and is made possible by a $10 million grant from chairman emeritus and Horatio Alger member Dennis R. Washington, and his wife, Phyllis.
Benny had a difficult upbringing in an abusive home, living in severe poverty. At times with no running water and very little food, Benny thought this lifestyle was normal until he went into foster care. Throughout his childhood, he had a love for learning but was taunted by his siblings and other neighborhood children for his academic success. Benny realized that higher education was the only way out of his situation and his dedication paid off. Today, Benny is a graduate of Wake Forest University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology. With the help of the Dennis Washington Achievement Scholarship, Benny will pursue a doctorate in learning science and policy at the University of Pittsburgh. With his education, Benny hopes to bring a voice to inner city youth and give back to the community.
“The Horatio Alger Association realizes that their scholars need more than just money; they need mentoring and support,” said Benny L. Cooper. “They taught me that although I faced challenges, it is more important that I stay empowered, and I’m very thankful for their continued support.”
“Benny sets an excellent example of lifelong learning and personal growth despite obstacles, and we are proud to support him in the next chapter of his academic career,” said David L. Sokol, president and CEO of the Horatio Alger Association. “The association is especially grateful for the many contributions of Dennis and Phyllis Washington and their dedication to offering students a brighter future through higher education.”
Washington, founder of the Washington Companies, has his own Horatio Alger story of inspiration and success. Overcoming childhood adversity and a bout with polio, Washington’s work ethic and unwavering motivation helped him to become vice president of the largest construction company in Montana by age 26, and he later created his own construction company, which would grow to be one of the largest in the nation.
“The greatest long-term benefit to society is realized by uplifting individuals, and providing this educational opportunity will help Benny realize his dreams,” stated Dennis and Phyllis Washington.
Four other individuals were awarded the scholarship in 2009: Ashley R. Orr, Joshua Steven Eddy, David Mou and Joel D. Stroot.
About the Horatio Alger Association:
Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans continues to fulfill its mission of honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals in our society who have succeeded in spite of adversity and of encouraging young people to pursue their dreams through higher education. The Horatio Alger Association offers three annual scholarship programs: the National Scholarship Program, state scholarship programs, and graduate grants. The association awards nearly $7 million annually in college scholarships and has given more than $65 million to deserving students since 1984. The association is a 2008-2009 Combined Federal Campaign participant; # 77062. For more information, please visit www.horatioalger.org.