ABOVE PHOTO: Idris Washington (Insert Photo/ccp.edu)
Community College of Philadelphia celebrated nearly 500 students during its inaugural Catto Legacy Awards on the birth anniversary of civil rights activist Octavius Catto.
Tuesday’s virtual awards ceremony acknowledged CCP students who have benefited from the college’s Octavius Catto scholarships. The program kicked off with remarks from a host of speakers, including the college’s president, Donald “Guy” Generals and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. Together, they highlighted the transformative power of the Catto scholarship.
“CCP faculty and staff and our committed Catto scholarship team are here today to celebrate Octavius Catto’s birthday and to recognize the accomplishments of our scholars,” said April Voltz, executive director of the Octavius Catto Scholarship.
In 2020, Kenney announced that money set aside for anti-violence programs will go towards funding scholarships in honor of Catto’s legacy. The scholarships were aimed to help CCP students with tuition, transportation, and food costs.
“A little over a year ago, we had our welcoming inaugural class of about 79 students to join the program,” Generals said. “Today we are excited to announce that we have approximately 500 scholars in this program. This is our celebration of the birthday of the great social justice giant, Octavius Catto.”
After Generals’s remarks, the awards presentation showcased the outstanding achievements of Catto Scholars over the past year. sOne testimonial came from the college’s first scholar to complete their program at CCP.
“We are pleased to announce that in December, Idris Washington became our first scholar to graduate from the College,” Generals said.
Washington is a graduate of CCP’s ‘Gateway to College’ program. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English at Temple University.
“To hear that there is a program and scholarship that offers students a little ease on [worrying about] paying money for school and instead letting the students focus on the work and trying to get through school was just amazing for me to hear,” Washington said.
He credits his teachers and advisors for part of his success.
“Different counselors and advisors of mine helped me so much and I really appreciate that,” Washington said. “I thank them for always talking to me and being there for me when I needed it.”
Washington shared that some staff and faculty members even stayed in contact after he graduated from the college, further supporting him through his transition process.
“The thought of having people there for you pushes you forward to do much better, so I really appreciate that you know, all the things as a whole, not just the scholarship itself, but all the people working together, it really helped me a lot,” he said.
During the celebration, Generals stated that it was in 2014 that CCP set out to become ‘the city college’ “by ensuring that the citizens of Philadelphia had opportunities and access to a higher education.”
“To have a higher education and pathways into the future, we partnered over the course of time with the mayor, Mayor Jim Kenny, and we were able to come up with the Octavius scholarship Program,” Generals said. “Not only do our scholars graduate from college without debt, but they also receive a wide array of wraparound services to ensure that they stay on track and that they ultimately graduate.”
“That success truly takes a village,” he added.
In his closing remarks, Kenney wished all of the scholars good luck. He noted that out of the many things that Catto accomplished and was passionate about throughout his life, education was a top priority.
“The fact that his name is associated with continuing education of other folks — 100 plus years after his death — to me, is just amazing, and it cements his legacy, keeps his spirit alive and keeps his memory alive, hopefully forever,” he said.
Additional support services for scholars include transportation, access to childcare, career coaching, and of course counseling advising and other academic support.
Individuals interested in participating in the scholarship can begin by applying to the College online. If eligible, they will be contacted by a member of the Catto team on next steps. More information on the Octavius Catto scholarship can be found by visiting: www.ccp.edu/catto.
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