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OneGoal Fellow in New York Receives $50K Scholarship

By Stephen Barker
August 9, 2023

OneGoal Fellow in New York La’Nya Brunner heads to Georgia this Fall to attend Clark Atlanta University thanks to a scholarship from UNCF and the Gray Foundation.

La'Nya Brunner, (back row, 7th from the right) stands with her fellow scholarship recipients from the class of 2023.

The Gray Foundation and UNCF – the United Negro College Fund, awarded OneGoal New York Fellow La’Nya Brunner a $50,000 per year scholarship to attend a historically Black college or university (HBCU). La’Nya, nominated by her OneGoal Program Director Kristin Azer, was selected as a UNCF/Gray NYC Scholars Program award recipient. She will attend Clark Atlanta University (CAU) beginning in the academic year 2023-2024. “The students nominated among all organizations made it a genuinely competitive selection process,” explained UNCF’s Margo Jacobs.

“When I found out, I was really ecstatic,” remembers La’Nya. “I was so happy; it was like a weight lifted from my shoulders and from my family’s shoulders. It is such a blessing.”

La’Nya knew early on that she wanted to attend an HBCU. “I had to find somewhere I would feel comfortable as an African American student,” she explained. “I want to be in a place where I can excel, grow, and have people around me that have been through the same things or that can relate to me and understand me.” When she began making her Best Fit List in her OneGoal class, Clark Atlanta was one of her top choices.

According to UNCF, HBCUs represent only three percent of America’s colleges and universities, yet they produce 15% of bachelor’s degrees and 19% of STEM degrees received by Black students. UNCF also points to research that shows African American HBCU grads report having experienced more support and higher levels of engagement than their peers at non-HBCUs. Since its founding in 1944, UNCF has raised more than $5 billion for scholarships and other direct support, helping more than 500,000 students graduate with college degrees.

La’Nya will be the first in her mother’s family to attend college: “It’s a goal that I’ve always had for myself, and I want to make my mom proud.” But the road to earning this scholarship and attending Clark Atlanta has come with hurdles. As a first-generation student, navigating the complicated selection and application process was challenging. Still, La’Nya said her OneGoal Program Director, Kristin “made sure that we stayed on track with our end goal.”

This summer, La’Nya is focusing on last-minute preparations before the 850-mile move from Brooklyn, New York, to Atlanta, Georgia, “I’m going to miss getting up and walking to a corner store or hopping on a train to get anywhere I want to go.”

For students like La’Nya who relocate out of state for their postsecondary journeys, being in a new city far from home can be jarring. “Now I’m branching off to create my own life, but it’s kind of hard because I have people I depend on,” she reflected. “I’m growing into becoming an adult and finding out what independence means.”

With the financial freedom afforded to her as a UNCF/Gray scholarship awardee, La’Nya looks forward to having the mental space to volunteer and explore her creative side, “I really love to sing, so I’m looking at joining the choir, and getting involved with a community service organization on campus.” In the future, La’Nya is most interested in becoming an entrepreneur or healthcare administrator and plans to study business administration.

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