Columbus Alternative High School Valedictorian Earns $70,000 Scholarship
VSP Vision Care awards inaugural four-year college scholarship and work opportunity
Columbus, OH, January 8, 2013 – As student loans surpass $1 trillion in the United States, there is one Columbus, Ohio resident who now won’t need to add to this staggering statistic. 18-year-old Dzjera Latham was awarded with a four-year college scholarship covering tuition and text book costs, valued at nearly $70,000 by VSP Vision Care, the largest not-for-profit vision benefits and services provider in the United States. Latham, who is attending The Ohio State University this year, also has the opportunity to work with VSP at one of the company’s optical laboratories, the VSPOne Columbus Technology Center in Columbus, OH.
Latham recently graduated from Columbus Alternative High School as class valedictorian. Three weeks later, she graduated with honors from DeVry University’s Advantage Academy earning her Associate of Applied Science in Web Graphic Design.
The company considers a variety of factors when selecting students, including a history of a strong academic performance, community involvement, financial needs and cultural background.
“We are excited to name Dzjera as the first recipient of our Columbus-area scholarship and work experience program,” said Swen Carlson, Vice President of Operations, VSP Central Region. “The success of our business relies on recruiting the best and brightest and she exemplified this through her commitment to excellence both inside and outside the classroom.”
Latham is the oldest of three siblings and born to a single, teenage mother. Her grandmother was also a teenage mother, and both her grandmother and mother were unable to graduate high school. Latham has been determined to break the trend of teenage pregnancy in her family with a focus on her education in order to support her mother’s efforts to raise their family.
Throughout high school, Latham revisited her former elementary school to provide mentorship to students by educating them on available resources and offering encouragement towards a bright future. While attending DeVry University’s Advantage Academy, she served as an intern with their Career Services team. In this role, Latham organized a career fair and identified potential employment leads for students.
“Without the scholarship, I would not be able to attend The Ohio State University,” said Latham. “I want to be a computer and information systems manager and I'm very curious about the technology used in the optical industry. With the experience I have in web graphic design, I can see how graphic design is essential to assembling a pair of glasses. Graphic design is used to create eyeglass frames that will be most beneficial to improving the customer’s vision along with making the frames appealing.
“Watching my mother go through many challenges to raise us has motivated me to focus on my education. During my first couple of months at VSP, I’ve spent a little time in each department to help gather a better understanding of VSP. This is only the beginning.”
Latham is the second student recipient of the newly developed VSP program. In May 2012, VSP awarded the first student recipient in Rancho Cordova, California, home of its main headquarters.
About VSP Vision Care
VSP® Vision Care is the largest not-for-profit vision benefits and services company in the United States with 58 million members. To date, through VSP community outreach programs such as VSP Mobile Eyes® and Sight for Students®, and through relationships including those with the American Red Cross and Prevent Blindness America, VSP has invested more than $150 million in free eyecare and eyewear for more than 785,000 adults and children in need throughout the United States. For more information visit us at www.vsp.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vspvisioncare.