KMOV catches UMSL admissions team surprising future Opportunity Scholars

Alexis Twillman

Oakville senior Alexis Twillman holds a check in the amount of $100,000 awarded by UMSL for up to four years of tuition, room and board and books after being selected for the Opportunity Scholars Program. Members of the UMSL admissions team surprised her with the scholarship offer on Monday at Oakville High School. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Vice Provost Alan Byrd, Director of Admissions Drew Griffin and other members of the admissions team at the University of Missouri–St. Louis surprised five area high school students with some potentially life-changing news on Monday, awarding them spots in the Opportunity Scholars Program beginning next fall.

KMOV (Channel 4) was there to spotlight it.

“Today was a day a handful of St. Louis-area high school seniors will never forget,” anchor Claire Kellett said as she introduced the story on the station’s 5 p.m. newscast. “They were surprised at school with what they call the opportunity of a lifetime.”

The Opportunity Scholars Program is targeted at academically gifted first-generation college students or other students from the St. Louis area who are underrepresented in the work force from certain academic fields, particularly science, technology, engineering and math. It awards each recipient a scholarship to cover their full tuition, fees and books for up to four years. The students live on campus in Oak Hall as part of a cohort in the Opportunity Scholars Program, and they receive unique opportunities for advising, mentoring and career experiences.

UMSL admissions staffers presented the five area high school students with checks written in the amount of $100,000 – the estimated value of the scholarship.

KMOV’s story opened with Oakville High School senior Alexis Twillman learning she’d been selected for the program. Her family members were on hand for the announcement.

Twillman turned emotional afterward when talking to KMOV about what it meant to be selected.

“Obviously the financial stuff that they don’t have to worry about anymore, and I like to think that they feel like they raised a good kid,” she told the station while choking back tears.

Jared Mitchell, one of two students surprised at Hazelwood Central High School on Monday, was simply elated.

“My heart is still racing,” Mitchell told KMOV. “I still can’t believe right now that this is actually happening.”

Both students are planning to major in science or engineering.

To see the full story, click here.

Primary Opportunity Scholars Program Supporters
Ameren Corporation Charitable Trust
AT&T, Inc.
The Bellwether Foundation
Emerson Charitable Trust
Energizer Trust Fund/Energizer Holdings, Inc.
Enterprise Holdings Foundation
Stanley and Terry Freerks
Kwame Foundation
Martin Leifeld and Ellen Howe
John F. McDonnell Fund
RGA Reinsurance Company
Helen Shopmaker
Honorable David L. Steward
Wells Fargo Advisors
Richard Miles and Patricia Whitaker


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