Coca-Cola Foundation sees results from investment in first-generation students

The Coca-Cola Foundation continues to provide robust support for scholarships and resources for first-generation students at Oglethorpe University.

On Oct. 31, Coca-Cola Foundation Director of Community Development Roxane Hamilton paid her first visit to campus, meeting with first-generation students and seeing up close how the investment is making a difference in students’ lives.

“It was a pleasure to be on campus and get to meet with the administration and the scholarship recipients,” Hamilton said. “The students are so ambitious. It was inspiring to hear their stories and witness how motivated they are to succeed. I hope their desire to blaze a new trail pursuing higher education will positively impact the trajectory of their family and leave a mark for years to come.”

Students who shared their experiences included Annabelle English, a business administration and management major from Austell, Ga.; Lea Osafo, a business administration major from Columbus, Ga.; William Sanabria, a business administration major from Loganville, Ga.; and Zennon Wright, a psychology major originally from Tokyo, Japan, and Atlanta resident since 2011.

“I was glad Roxane was able to see in our students what we see,” said Interim President Kathryn McClymond. “They are resourceful and have a thirst for learning that help them thrive on a campus our size and with our unique Core program. The students and I were able to express our gratitude to the Coca-Cola Foundation for consistently providing opportunities for students to attend college, and it’s an investment that has paid off for the community.”

In addition to visiting with students, Hamilton spent time with McClymond to learn about university priorities and how Oglethorpe is investing in student success. Hosted by Oglethorpe’s Advancement team, Hamilton also met with First-Generation Student Conference planners Rhana Gittens Wheeler, Peter Dye and Jessica Winestock who provided an overview of the upcoming event hosted at Oglethorpe Nov. 10. Dr. Lisa Conley, director of career development at Oglethorpe, outlined externships and other career opportunities for Oglethorpe students at Coca-Cola.

The Coca-Cola Foundation awarded its first Coca-Cola Scholars Grant totaling $1 million to Oglethorpe in 2012. Since then, 300 students have benefited from these scholarships.

For nearly 100 years, the Coca-Cola Company and Oglethorpe University have shared strong ties to one another and to the city of Atlanta. The very first Coca-Cola bottler, John Thomas Lupton, was a great Oglethorpe benefactor for whom our administration building is named.

Throughout the years, numerous Coca-Cola executives have served on Oglethorpe’s board of trustees, including former Oglethorpe board chair Norm Findley, retired Executive Vice President for Coca-Cola Enterprises, board members Ceree Eberly, chief people officer and Ricardo Carvalho ’85, former market development executive for the Coca-Cola Company. Former Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Oglethorpe in 2008. In May of 2022, Oglethorpe welcomed commencement speaker Beatriz “Bea” Perez, the Coca-Cola Company’s Senior Vice President and Chief Communications, Sustainability and Strategic Partnerships Officer. Perez also received an Oglethorpe honorary degree of Doctor of Letters in recognition of her leadership and service toward making a lasting positive impact for consumers, communities, and the environment.

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