2015 Bucking the Trend Luncheon

 Pictured left to right: Bryan Drewry, Kingsley Nwokelo, Ralph Smithers, Valerie Lee, Michael Robinson, Xavier Thompson, Amjed Osman, Robert Bennett, and Rubin Minor
Pictured left to right: Bryan Drewry, Kingsley Nwokelo, Ralph Smithers, Jr., Valerie Lee, Michael Robinson, Xavier Thompson, Amjed Osman, Robert Bennett, and Rubin Minor

“You can never pay back, but you can always pay forward.”                                                                                 ~ Woody Hayes


Giving back is a philosophy that Bryan Drewry and Ralph Smithers, Jr. - a Morrill Scholar and an Ohio State graduate - believe in. Ralph and Bryan had worked together on a few group insurance projects, and in 2010, the two had talked about doing something to help Ohio State students. “Our basis for everything was the quote from Woody Hayes about paying it forward, to help out someone as someone helped you out,” Bryan said. To pay forward the help that they had been given, the two decided to create a scholarship fund. Bryan used his contacts in the Todd Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male and the ODI Advancement Office, and the Bucking the Trend Scholarship was born.

Bucking the Trend provides merit- and need-based funds for in-state students from Franklin County and surrounding counties. Awardees must be full-time students, have a minimum 3.0 GPA, and be involved in the Bell Center. In the past four years, the fund has given out eight scholarships worth $9,000 and the scholarship has grown each year. 

This year’s ceremony honored three recipients. Bryan told the students: “The dash between a date of birth and a date of death represents everything that you will do in between, how you fulfill your dreams and goals. Be sure to use that time to make the world different from how you found it.” Ralph asked that the awardees feel the importance of this day, to go out and succeed and make a difference. “You were selected for this scholarship – you earned it,” he continued. Also in attendance were Michael Robinson and Rubin Minor, who contributed to the scholarship and reminded the honorees that “they can still win no matter their starting position.”

Each of the recipients was given the chance to say a few words; while all expressed their gratitude for receiving the scholarship, they each added a more personal message of thanks: Kingsley Nwokelo (Biomedical Engineering) was appreciative of the resources he received at the Bell Center and everyone who helped him along the way, especially his dad; Amjed Osman (Finance) was thankful for his mom and dad and knows that he is paving the way for others; Xavier Thompson (Athletic Training), who met Kingsley in the Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male’s (BNRC) Early Arrival Program, recalled that he met many of his best friends through that program, and was thankful for their support.                  

Scholarship support is a key component to the BNRC’s holistic approach to retention and success of their students.  Since 2005, the Bell Center has been instrumental in helping raise Ohio State’s graduation rate for African American males to 67% compared to a national average of 59%. The Bell Center has also become a national resource for those individuals interested in learning about best practices and groundbreaking research on African American males.

If you would like to make a secure donation to the Bucking the Trend Scholarship, click here.