A good attitude and some joy

Darwin T. Turner Scholar says program has closed gaps, provided community

Joi HutchersonJoi Hutcherson read the email with her acceptance into the University of Cincinnati’s Darwin T. Turner Scholars Program and screamed. Loudly.

"We were on our way to the movies and Tyler [her fiancé] and his dad thought my water broke because I was so loud," Joi says. "I yelled because I was happy."

Always "dead-set" on going to college, the fact that Joi was to become a young mother never deterred her; it was simply an additional motivator.

Joi knew she would need scholarship support, and was a focused and accomplished high school student. She says she was honored to be a part of a highly competitive program.

Offered by UC’s Office of Ethnic Programs & Services, the Darwin T. Turner Scholars Program promotes academic excellence, fosters diversity and provides leadership and service opportunities to its students. Named after African American student Darwin T. Turner, the youngest person to graduate from UC at the age of 16, the program’s goal is to recruit and retain underrepresented groups with high potential for academic success. Students like Joi must meet qualifying criteria to be considered and, if accepted, receive full tuition scholarships.

"Darwin T. Turner is based on service, scholarship and success," Joi says. "They look for students who want to better themselves and make an impact on the world."

This description describes Joi perfectly. In her second year at the College of Arts & Sciences with a major in organizational leadership, Joi is the UC Student Government Director of Academic Affairs, a member of the Society for Human Resources Management, holds an internship, runs a baking business (Joiful Creations) and is the mother of two-year-old Carter Rose.

Joi shares that being a mother is just part of her story. She’s juggled a lot since high school where she participated in sports, choir, orchestra and was involved in her church.

"You run like a mad woman and sleep really hard," she laughs. "I think if you put your mind to it, you’ll get it done."

Joi says being a Darwin T. Turner Scholar has elevated her college experience.

"Not only would I not have been able to afford college without Turner," she says. "As a commuter student, it gave me a community. Director Brandi Elliott is an amazing woman and makes it feel more like a family than a scholarship."

The praise is mutual. Dr. Elliott, director of UC’s Office of Ethnic Programs & Services, said Joi was awarded a scholarship based on her impeccable work ethic and commitment to social justice, diversity, equity and inclusion. Dr. Elliott has watched Joi thrive at UC, balancing her priorities and excelling academically.

"Joi is a compassionate individual with a tremendous empathetic ability when relating to others," Dr. Elliott says. "Not only is she an exceptional and hardworking student, she is also an amazing mother to a toddler. Joi is doing all of this as a sophomore in college. The world better watch out, because Joi is not stopping."

Joi knows that her education will make life better for her own family. Growing up in Wyoming (Ohio), she became aware of what she could strive for in life.

"My own home didn’t have a lot of material things, but I was loved and taught to never give up on myself," Joi shares. "That’s what I want to give Carter; I want to close the gaps on the tangible things and teach her that she’s capable of anything."

A good attitude goes a long way, she says. Good advice from a woman named Joi.

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