First Balfour scholars prepare for graduation

From left, Bibi Alas-Ruiz, Oluwatobi John Adebayo and Liwam Gebressalie. Alas-Ruis and Adebayo were part of the first Balfour class in 2013; Adebayo gradued with a degree in physics this May, while Alas-Ruis will graduate this summer with a degree in social work. Gebressalie participated in the Balfour program in 2016 and will study abroad in Ghana this summer thanks to a scholarship gift from the Jongsma family.

The Balfour Scholars Program celebrated four students from its first class in 2013 graduating this May.

The program brings high school students from under-resourced schools to IU for a week, where they are introduced to university life. Nearly all the students are from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, and many go on to be the first in their families to attend college, including IU.

“The Balfour Scholars Program spent five years changing the trajectories of hundreds of students, many from under-resourced schools, dozens who were the first members of their families to attend college, and nearly all from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups,” director Carl Darnell said. “Today, Balfour equips, enhances, and supports over 500 Black, Latinx, and Native students’ journeys in the pursuit and completion of a post-secondary credential.”

Along with the four students graduating in May, five from the first Balfour class will complete their degree programs this summer, with two more students finishing up in the fall.  The group also celebrated eight Balfour students participating in overseas studies this year thanks to a scholarship gift from the Jongsma family for the Balfour Scholars Program.