Tamura and Nedra Okwu know what it means to be a Pacesetter. The sisters are part of a select group of 52 students who have attended Xavier as recipients of the Pacesetter Scholarships. And both say being a Pacesetter has had a powerful impact on their lives.
“It was great not having that burden of paying that high cost of education,” Tamura says. “I could enjoy what Xavier had to offer and get the most out of my education. Some of my best times were there.”
The scholarship fund, targeting inner-city students from Toledo, Ohio, was established—and has been largely underwritten—by 1960 graduate and University trustee Charles Gallagher. Since it was started 10 years ago, 32 of the 52 Pacesetter scholars—about 62 percent—have graduated or are currently registered at the University. Five more—slightly less than 10 percent—either transferred to another institution or left school to join the military.
Tamura graduated in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She works in quality assurance for the Lucas County, Ohio, department of job and family services. Younger sister Nedra graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2004 and stayed at Xavier to earn a master’s degree in 2005. She works for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in a unit that investigates health care fraud.
Both are grateful for Gallagher’s vision. “It allowed me to have all these great experiences, to be able to pursue my master’s—because I didn’t have a lot of debt like a lot of students do after undergrad—and to be able to have a job in the field that I want,” says Nedra. “I see my future here. I like to think I’m a success story for what he really wanted the program to do.”