By Cedric Ricks
University of Cincinnati Communications
Shadowing physicians, balancing studies and sports while still finding time for Marvel’s antics, Benya Coleman never gets tired of the well wishes and she’s still a bit teary-eyed.
The high school senior was one of 10 students awarded the University of Cincinnati’s Marian Spencer Scholarship created to recognize high-achieving students in Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS). Coleman, a student at nationally accredited and STEM-certified Hughes STEM High School, was caught by surprise with the announcement at a school gathering earlier this year.
“I always hear congratulations from strangers, teachers and co-workers,” says Coleman. “It means a lot to see people in the community showing love. People always tell me how lucky I am and I agree.”
Coleman doesn’t bring it up to strangers or even family or friends because she doesn’t want to seem like “I’m bragging, and I am not,” says Coleman. “This is just such good news, it’s hard not to share. I think to myself, ‘If they haven’t seen it anywhere then maybe I shouldn’t bring up,’ but if I’m asked about scholarships or what college, I am going to reply with ‘I got a full ride to UC!’”
Coleman graduated from Hughes STEM High School Tuesday, May 17, at a ceremony at Fifth Third Arena at UC. She plans to study medical sciences at UC and has been admitted into the UC College of Medicine. Coleman has wanted to be an obstetrician for years.
The Marian Spencer Scholarship is made possible thanks to an investment of $6 million — the result of a gift from UC alumnus and venture capitalist Jim Goetz and university matching funds — and will allow 10 CPS students a year to receive full tuition, room and board scholarships and other opportunities. The first 10 Spencer Scholars will enroll in fall 2022, and by 2023 the program will include at least one student from each of the 18 high schools within CPS.
Coleman says the scholarship announcement has just made her work harder in school and not disappoint her family. She is employed at a Cincinnati hospital as part of a school-to-work program. “I enjoy being in a hospital environment,” says Coleman. “It’s very rare to graduate high school with two years of hospital experience in eight different departments.”
She also finds time to stay active in sports, playing volleyball and softball and has a weekend job at a restaurant to make extra money.
“I use my free time, whenever I get some, to watch thriller movies and to try and remake foods off of TikTok,” says Colemen. “I also enjoy remaking movie scenes from my favorite movies. I like the movies “The Book of Life,” “The Long Kiss Goodnight,” “Turning Red,” “The Book of Henry,” “Dreamgirls,” and I love the TV show “Law and Order.”
“I did want to write, direct and act in movies when I was younger,” says Coleman. “I’m also a really big Marvel fan, I can talk about Marvel for hours and rewatch all the movies.”
After Coleman’s high school graduation, she plans to continue working during the summer, but also try to find time for some fun before UC classes begin. She’s also excited about the chance to shadow medical professionals at a hospital in New York, attend a wedding in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and to get a driver’s license.
“I’m so excited to start UC this fall,” says Coleman. “I have nothing but love and thanks to the entire UC community. I don’t think they understand how they have changed my life for the better. UC makes dreams come true.”