Pierre Laclede Honors College welcomes newest cohort of Opportunity Scholars

by | Jun 17, 2019

Bana Sultan, Katie Basler, Nora Stith, Jalen Rhodes and Lorne St. Christopher II were on campus for a reception Wednesday.
2019 Opportunity Scholars

The 2019 Opportunity Scholars (from left) Bana Sultan, Katie Basler, Nora Stith, Jalen Rhodes and Lorne St. Christopher II were honored at a reception Wednesday at the Provincial House. (Photos by August Jennewein)

Since 2011, the University of Missouri–St. Louis has been transforming the lives of local students through its prestigious Opportunity Scholars Program.

The all-inclusive, four-year scholarship focuses on students from two key areas: first-generation college students and those who are underrepresented in the workforce from certain academic fields. Graduates from this program have gone on to become trailblazers in engineering, health care and other vital professions.

The Pierre Laclede Honors College welcomed its latest cohort of Opportunity Scholars for a reception Wednesday at the Provincial House on UMSL’s South Campus.

The five honored scholars, who will begin classes this fall, are Katie Basler, Lorne St. Christopher II, Bana Sultan, Nora Stith and Jalen Rhodes.


Katie Basler
Hometown: Festus, Missouri
High school: Festus High School
Academic interest: Business administration
“Receiving the Opportunity Scholarship means that I will be able to focus on achieving a higher education and making a difference in the community without the financial burden of college expenses. I believe higher education is important because it presents opportunities for success. As a first-generation college student, I’ve seen my family struggle to be successful without the foundation that higher education would have provided.”


Lorne St. Christopher II
Hometown: Scott, Arkansas
High school: Parkway North High School
Academic interest: Mechanical engineering
“As a recipient of the Opportunity Scholarship, I am now given both the blessing and responsibility of pursuing a higher education. The world today is governed by the educated, and I now have the opportunity to become one of these people. Funding is one of the largest restrictions for people when it comes to pursuing a collegiate degree. I now have this obstacle moved aside and am able to focus all my attention to school.”


Bana Sultan
Hometown: St. Louis
High school: Gateway STEM High School
Academic interest: Pre-optometry
“Pursuing higher education is important to me because it is something that is instilled in me and that I value very much. My parents escaped potential war and poverty in Iraq to be able to come to the States and raise children who would have not only a better life than they had but be given stronger education. For this very reason, I push myself and exceed my limits every academic year to make sure I am successful.”


Nora Stith
Hometown: St. Louis (born in Guangxi, China)
High school: Francis Howell High School
Academic interests: Biology, pre-dental
“Receiving the Opportunity Scholarship is a dream come true. Ever since I was young, I worried about the financial aspects of college. Now, since I have received such a great honor, I won’t have the added stress that comes when starting this new chapter in my life. A higher education presents many more career opportunities. Additionally, for me, a bachelor’s degree will form the foundation for my plan to pursue an advanced degree.”


Jalen Rhodes
Hometown: Belleville, Illinois
High school: Belleville East High School
Academic interests: Mechanical engineering, statistics, mathematics and computer science
“Having UMSL representatives come into my class and informing me that I received the scholarship filled me with a sense of accomplishment. Earning a full-ride scholarship was a dream that I have had since freshman year, and the idea of not paying for college seemed almost unbelievable my freshman year. I knew it was going to require a tremendous amount of dedication in academics and extracurricular activities. I had to become seriously involved in my school. I hope to put the equivalent amount of dedication toward UMSL.”


Sponsors for the Opportunity Scholars Program include AT&T, The Bellwether Foundation, Emerson Charitable Trust, Enterprise Holdings Foundation, Stanley and Terry Freerks, Kwame Building Group, Martin Leifeld and Ellen Howe, John F. McDonnell, Richard Miles and Patricia Whitaker, Reinsurance Group of America and David and Thelma Steward.

Sara Bell

Sara Bell