Campus News

May 9, 2011

Campaign Emory

First Emory Advantage students earn degrees

Courtney Black, Willow Wood, and Kyle Black are three of the first graduating recipients of the Emory Advantage Program.
Courtney Black, Willow Wood, and Kyle Black are three of the first graduating recipients of the Emory Advantage Program.

By Terri McIntosh and Corey Broman-Fulks

The first students to receive four years of financial aid from Emory Advantage graduated May 9, with grade-point averages ranging from 3.3 to 4.0. Their accomplishments illustrate the program's value, Emory's leaders say.

"Thanks to donors who are investing in the Emory Advantage program, Emory has been able to give these students a solid foundation for success," says President Jim Wagner. "Not only does the program provide for broader access to an Emory education, but it also helps ensure, just as importantly, that the experience and perspectives of these students are present on campus to enrich the entire university community."

The first Emory Advantage awards were granted during the 2007-08 academic year to 133 entering freshmen in Emory College of Arts and Sciences, Oxford College, Goizueta Business School, and the School of Nursing. Of those students, 94 percent are from single-parent households, and 38 percent are the first in their families to graduate from college.

Emory Advantage was designed to ensure access to an Emory education for all qualified undergraduates from families with total annual incomes of $100,000 or less. The program offers need-based grants and loan caps to reduce education debt for those students.

Boosting potential

Brothers Courtney Black '11C and Kyle Black '11C of Jonesboro are among the Emory Advantage students receiving their bachelor's degrees this spring, both in economics. For Courtney, a summer internship with Google has led to a full-time position with the company in Ann Arbor, Mich. As a Google account manager, he will place online advertising.

"Donors who give to Emory Advantage directly affect people's lives," he says. "They help students who are capable go to a great school and reach their full potential."

Kyle Black leaves for Hyderabad, India, in July to complete a nine-month fellowship in social enterprise. The fellowship will enable him to help develop and implement a business plan for a school in the country's low-cost education sector.

"Money should never be a reason someone doesn't go to college. Without Emory Advantage, that would have been the only reason I wouldn't have been able to attend," he says.

Emory Advantage beneficiary Willow Wood '08Ox-'11C, an environmental studies major from Houston credits the program with shaping her future. Graduating debt-free, she says, provides "a nice clean slate to figure out what I want to do—and to get my toes wet in a couple of different areas of environmental science—without focusing on having to pay copious amounts of student debt going forward."

The University has pledged internal funds to support the first five years of the Emory Advantage program at approximately $3 million per year to meet student demand. A $75 million endowment, or $3 million on an annual basis, is necessary to fund the program beyond 2012. Since the program began, 775 donors have invested $28.5 million in gifts and pledges toward this goal.

Alumni and friends interested in helping students with gifts to Emory Advantage can do so by visiting

"A program like Emory Advantage doesn't just touch the students it supports," said Lynn Zimmerman, senior vice provost. "It touches their children and their grandchildren, because educated people will have educated children. It matters."

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