Meet Temples inaugural cohort of Cecil B. Moore Scholars

This fall, Temple welcomes the first students selected for the Cecil B. Moore Scholars Program, which creates an academic pathway from high school to college and amplifies the potential of the bright young minds in North Philadelphia, the community that Temple’s Main Campus also calls home.

While they were in high school, the Scholars received tutoring and mentorship from Steppingstone Scholars, an educational nonprofit, and Temple as well as the opportunity to enroll in a course at the university in their senior year. And now they’ve received scholarships that will cover all four of their years at Temple. Get to know these exceptional new Owls.

Sahira De Los Santos-Tapia
Nursing | College of Public Health
North Philadelphia |19140
Esperanza Academy Charter School

Why did you choose nursing? What motivates you?
I have a true passion for helping people and I have this vision of one day having my own organization. My community [motivates me]. I know that there are a lot of people who live without medical insurance or cannot afford to receive care.

What are your post-graduation plans?
After I [complete my Temple degree], I want to travel to poverty-stricken communities and provide aid to those who are in need of it. And not only just aid, but other resources they may need as well.

How did you get involved with the Cecil B. Moore Scholars Program?
I found out about the program from my school counselor. She emailed me and she knew that I was interested in going to Temple University and [that] I was already doing dual enrollment courses. She was like, “Hey, there’s this opportunity at Temple University that I think is honestly great and I think that you should take part in.” So, she sent me the information, I looked over it and then signed up.

“My neighborhood means everything to me. I think [it’s] a big factor as to who I am today and seeing a lot of people struggle with working and paying bills, just seeing daily struggles, thats kind of motivated me to keep pushing forward and actually strive to do something different.”

Temple University student Sahira De Los Santos-Tapia

Bianca Perez
Kinesiology | College of Public Health
North Philadelphia | 19140
Thomas Alva Edison High School

What kind of activities did you do in high school? Did they influence what you wanted to major in?
I was heavily involved in school, played a lot of sports from volleyball to softball, and was the manager for our volleyball, varsity football and boy’s basketball teams. At Temple I want to play intramural softball. After I get my bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, I want to earn my master’s degree in athletic training.

What do you think Temple can offer you? Why do you think Temple was the right fit? 
I heard great things about Temple’s kinesiology program. I think Temple can offer me more resources to help me build up my resume because I am really passionate about sports and want to work as a trainer for an NFL, NBA or MLB team. I think with Temple having a big name it can help me get an internship with a sports team that can help push me and expand my name out there. 

Who is your hero?
My hero is 100% my mom, who has been my No. 1 supporter from day one. I am one of four kids that she raised as a single mother. I remember she worked three different jobs at a time to make sure we had everything we needed. Even when I could sense she was stressed out, she made us believe that we were going to get through it. She is the reason why I work so hard and sacrifice my spring and summer breaks because I want to make her proud. 

“Living right in the heart of North Philly, I was fueled and motivated to keep on going and not give up because I want to help raise the next generation.”

Temple University student Bianca Perez

I’Shanay Meeks
Undeclared Health Professions | College of Public Health
Strawberry Mansion | 19123
Parkway Center City High School

Why do you think Temple is the right fit for you?
I think it’s the right fit for me because I grew up near the area—it’s in Philadelphia, which is where I’m from. I also feel like Temple will give me a real college experience, like networking and being able to meet different people from different backgrounds and ethnicities.

How would you describe the inaugural Cecil. B Moore Scholars cohort?
I feel like everyone who is part of this program has goals for themselves and wants to be something eventually, so we have that future ahead of us. I think it’s important to work hard and be dedicated to make sure no matter what comes your way, you succeed in life. 

What’s your superpower?
I would say my dedication and hard work because when I want something, I won’t stop until I get it and achieve my goals.

I think this program is an experience I’ll gain, going to Temple, and being able to meet different people from different backgrounds.

I'Shanay Meeks

Thom Hoffman
Computer Science | College of Science and Technology
Fairmount | 19130
Academy at Palumbo

How did you pick your major?
Around middle school, I got interested in how computers function, the mechanics and engineering behind it and also how to code programs. I’m not sure what I want to do with it yet but I’m hoping to work for Apple or Microsoft.

Who is your role model?
My mom is my biggest role model, she is a really good support system. She helped me through a lot when I was younger. I was adopted from Vietnam and learning English was a struggle. Even though she may not always agree with me, she is there if I slip up.

What’s your favorite thing about Philadelphia?
The food! It’s so diverse; you can get Ethiopian, Indian, Thai and Vietnamese food when you walk down the street in my neighborhood.

“I’m so grateful to be chosen as one of the Cecil B. Moore Scholars. And I can’t wait to go to college.”

Temple University student Thom Hoffman

Khyrah Blue
Bioengineering | College of Engineering
North Philadelphia | 19121
Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School

What are your dreams and goals?
To be able to build a family, not necessarily on the basis of a relationship or having a child, but having a group of people that means so much to me that we really are like family. And we can lean on each other, share our experiences with the world and accomplish our goals together.

Who’s your hero?
My mother is my hero. I would do anything for her and she would do anything for me. She is the person who drives and motivates me. I have had so many times this year where I really felt like I could not continue. She has been right there saying, “You can do this. I know that you can do this. I didn’t raise a quitter.” She is my rock. There are really good mothers out there in the world, but if you ask me, mine is the best.

What does Cecil B. Moore mean to you?
He signifies coming into a world where people who look like me can benefit from all of the efforts that he and other people like him put in for us. He is someone to look up to, someone who shows that you can accomplish anything, no matter who tells you you can’t do it. It’s an honor to be able to receive a scholarship in his name because that’s exactly what the scholarship means for me.

“The access you get to so many different opportunities—that’s what I love most about North Philly.”

Temple University student Khyrah Blue
Temple University student Janaya Boston-McCray

Janaya McCray-Boston
Biology | College of Science and Technology
Poplar | 19123
William W. Bodine High School

What drove your decision to come to Temple?
I remember doing a lot of research on every college I applied to and Temple stood out to me not only because its biology program is rigorous, but they are preparing students for the future careers they want. That’s what I wanted in a school. I want to continue to be pushed in my education and know Temple would be the place to do that. 

How do you feel about being selected as a Cecil B. Moore Scholar?
I’m grateful I got the scholarship—not a lot of the colleges I applied to gave me much money, so to be able to be in my backyard and knowing there are people thinking about kids in Philadelphia—and especially near Temple—is amazing. I always thought Temple was a long reach for me, that tuition and books and supplies would be too much, and now because of that scholarship I won’t have to worry as much. 

What has your experience in the program been like so far?
It’s been amazing getting to know everyone and their different personalities, and I’m excited to be a part of a group of such special individuals. Because the program is geared toward other students in the North Philadelphia region, I feel like I can relate to them because we’re from a similar area and background, which means if I ever need help I can turn to them for advice. 

To be able to be in my backyard and knowing there’s people thinking about kids in Philadelphia—and especially near Temple—is amazing.

Cory Matthews
Business Management | Fox School of Business
Yorktown | 19122 
Parkway Center City Middle College

What kind of activities did you do in high school?
I played three varsity sports, including basketball, track and baseball. I was also interested in collecting sneakers. I started studying sneaker and cleaning tutorials and researching different materials on sneakers. In October 2020, while still in high school, I decided to start my own sneakers cleaning business named The Sole Surgeon 215 at my house.  

Why do you think Temple was the right fit? What drove that decision?
Temple made me feel like family from the very beginning of applying to colleges. Temple has one of the best business programs in the country. The Fox School of Business has always caught my attention. I think studying business management will sharpen my entrepreneurial skills and help me pursue my career goal as a sports agent. 

What’s your superpower?
The ability to motivate people. With people in my neighborhood, I show them that I come from the same background, including a low-income, single-parent household and losing my mother at a young age, but I overcame it. I have that ability to stay motivated to shine that light on others and I think getting accepted into Temple will give me a chance to inspire my community. 

“One of my main goals of getting a full-tuition scholarship to Temple is to inspire people in my neighborhood. I think if they see someone earn a degree at Temple that came from the same background it can help motivate them into believing that they can do it too.”

Temple University student Cory Matthews

Sa’Dasia Jordan
Health Professions | College of Public Health
North Philadelphia | 19122
Fitler Academics Plus School

What was your experience with Temple like growing up?
Ever since I was in fifth grade, I was exposed to Temple. My middle school was near the campus and I used to walk through it with my friends after school on the way home. Growing up, I saw how big a university it is and how many opportunities it has for people.

What is your major and what are your career goals?
My major is health professions and I want to become a doctor. Originally, I wanted to become a pediatric nurse because my doctor always treated me well and there are children who need help. I also enjoy being around kids and meeting new people. I later realized I want to be a doctor instead, and am now open to working with all ages.

What was your reaction when you got accepted to Temple and the Cecil B. Moore Scholars Program?
When I got accepted to Temple, I cried. It was such an emotional thing getting into this program and Temple—it was happy tears. It was a pact my grandfather and I had that he wanted me to go. My grandfather really wanted that opportunity for me. My grandmother lives in the area, too. Temple is a big thing in my family. 

“When I got accepted to Temple, I cried. It was such an emotional thing getting into this program and Temple—it was happy tears.”

Temple University student Sa’Dasia Jordan

Assiyah Allen
Undeclared | College of Liberal Arts 
Hunting Park | 19140 
Simon Gratz High School Mastery Charter

Who’s your hero?
My mom because she gave me my entire life to take opportunities when they were given to me. I joined the STEM program when I was in sixth grade. I went to the Community College of Philadelphia for my senior year, including a Temple course, so she pushed me to do a lot of things in life and to not settle for less. 

When did you know you wanted to come to Temple? What drove that decision?
I really loved and appreciated that Temple was the most active with contacting me by providing more resources and information than the other schools that I got accepted into. I think having this full-ride scholarship will allow me to pursue my dreams and develop a lot of connections in the future.

What’s it been like so far to be a part of this cohort?
It has really been fun getting a tour of the campus, seeing all the buildings and a lot of programs that they offer and the resources they have when we need help. Just seeing more things on campus I was surprised at how nice it really is. Being part of this Cecil B. Moore cohort, we can go on this journey together and not alone. 

“Being a part of this Cecil B. Moore cohort, we can go on this journey together and not alone.”

Temple University student Assiyah Allen
Temple University student Dashetta Davenport

Da’shetta Davenport
Undeclared Health Professions | College of Public Health
North Philadelphia | 19121
Murrell Dobbins Career & Technical Education High School

Growing up near campus, what did you think of Temple?
I’ve always been around Temple since I was a little kid—I always used to see Temple students walk past my house and go across the street to the football field, which was right there. So I always told my mom that I could see myself going to college and I really wanted to go to Temple because I grew up in that neighborhood. 

What does being a Cecil B. Moore Scholar—and being a part of the inaugural cohort—mean to you?
Everything is just amazing—it’s all these young students coming fresh out of high school and having the opportunity to go to college. I know some people who think college isn’t for them, but I’m the type of person who likes to go do things and do things myself, so this opportunity to be a Cecil B. Moore Scholar is amazing because we can go to college and go to a college we want to go to.

How did you react when you found out you were selected to be a Cecil B. Moore Scholar? 
I checked my email and was shocked so I ran downstairs to my mom and asked her to read it to tell me if it was true, and then everyone in the house started screaming. I’m the first one to go to college of my mom’s kids, so she’s seeing her baby girl going to college and I really want to do it for my parents. I know not a lot of people have this opportunity so I’m so blessed to have this scholarship.

I can’t wait to see myself really grow with this experience, and I know there are going to be a lot of people who have the same experience as me so I’m excited to meet new friends.

Alphonso Pack
Marketing | Fox School of Business
North Philadelphia | 19121 
Murrell Dobbins Career & Technical Education High School

What is your favorite thing about Philadelphia?
It’s a great community where there is a lot of effort to build more opportunities for people growing up here. I really enjoy the tourism and all the different places you can visit in Philadelphia like the Rocky statue and Rocky Steps, the museums and all the underground places to visit. 

Have you gotten involved with any Temple programs before?
I participated in DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) competitions during 10th and 11th grade that took place in Wachman Hall at Temple. DECA is like a roleplay business, entrepreneurship- and hospitality-based challenge where you are being tested against thousands of other students. My tests were based on sports and entertainment marketing where I finished in fourth place for districts and received a fifth place medal for states at Hershey, Pennsylvania. 

Who’s your hero?
My stepdad was a good role model in my life who taught me how to become a man and how to interact with our community and family. He taught me how to tie my first tie, [about] entrepreneurship, ways to be a good community leader and helped me get into the mindset of preparing for life as I get older, which has made me into who I am today.  

“Once I was given the opportunity to join the Cecil B. Moore Scholars Program I realized that Temple is a really good school and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I didn't want to miss.”

An image of an owl statue on Temple University's Main Campus

Donna Nguyen
Biology | College of Science and Technology
East Kensington | 19125
Franklin Learning Center High School 

Why did you choose your major?
I always loved science and research and biology in general—I love how complex it is. So in college I wanted to really get to know what to expect and how to get a headstart on my career in the medical field. I love doing research and was thrilled to hear about Temple’s HIV research. I want to be a part of something big like that. 

What does being part of the Cecil B. Moore Scholars Program mean to you?
It’s just a great honor. I’m very excited to bring a new perspective to my family being a first-generation college student getting this scholarship. It has really encouraged me to further my education and do what I’ve always wanted to do without worrying about the financial part. 

How would you describe your connection to the city of Philadelphia?
I wrote in my personal essay saying how Philly is the land of opportunities for me because without coming here—I’m from Vietnam and came to the U.S. seven years ago—I wouldn’t get all the opportunities I get today. I realize the history of Philadelphia and how a lot of American history starts here, and my new start starts here as well.

I know a lot of people who went to Temple and talking to them and hearing the positive things they said made me curious—I wanted to go and find that great experience they were experiencing.

Temple University student Donna Nguyen

Shakeya Watt
Biology | College of Science and Technology
North Philadelphia | 19121
Carver High School of Engineering and Science

Why did you choose biology?
I’m just really interested in science. I knew I wanted to be in the medical field because during my junior and senior years in high school I did [a program outside of school] in anatomy.

Who is your hero?
My mom. She's just really strong. She had eight kids and she raised them all by herself. She did everything.

How did you feel finding out you were going to be a Cecil B. Moore Scholar?
Really excited! The financial aspect of college was one of the biggest things that I had to consider, so when I found out that I got the scholarship I was really excited and celebrated with my mom and my family.

“The mentorship that I got. There were a lot of schools you just got accepted and they didn’t really help you through the process. At Temple, before I even accepted the offer they emailed me like 1,000 times. And then the advisor who was in charge of the college, they keep emailing asking if you have any questions.”

Temple University student Shakeya Watt
Temple University student Xavier Gauthier

Xavier Gauthier
Business Management | Fox School of Business
North Philadelphia | 19122
Carver High School of Engineering and Science

Why did you choose your major?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset and I really don’t want to be working for anybody. I want to work for myself and allow for creative expression in my businesses.

Do you have an idea of what your business might be?
I have a lot of ideas. I’m working on a clothing brand, but it’s on hold because I’m trying to put together a collective of artists in order to expand it and be able to do more with the clothing. And my family and I are working on a decentralized crypto music platform. I make music myself. I make rap, pop. My music is pretty versatile. Plus we have some ideas floating around in my family for another family business. We were thinking about maybe starting a bakery.

What’s your superpower?
My creativity. Because I strongly believe that that’s really the key thing about humans in general. I believe that we’re born to be creative and to have all these ideas and passions. And I think that’s the most important thing about being an entrepreneur or just living life in general.

“I believe that we’re born to be creative.”

Tamia Frasier
Psychology or Criminal Justice | College of Liberal Arts
North Philadelphia | 19121
Constitution High School 

Why do you want to study psychology or criminal justice?
I’m still undecided [between the two]. I want to be a psychologist or a lawyer because I love helping people. A lot of people need advice and all my friends and family come to me for advice. I just want to talk to people and help them out. 

What are you most excited about coming to Temple?
I want to go to a Homecoming! I have never been to one and because it’s Temple, I know it’s going to be big. And I really like the Temple colors; [cherry] red is my favorite color.

What do you like about Philadelphia?
Philly is a big city with a lot of people but it’s a small city. Everybody knows everybody. I love my city, we are very unique. We come up with our own creations and people from other cities steal our lingo.

I always wanted to be out there. I’m very shy but if I have to take a step, I’m gonna take a step.”

Tamia Frasier

Anyae Scott 
Biology | College of Science and Technology
North Philadelphia | 19132
Simon Gratz High School Mastery Charter

When did you know you wanted to come to Temple? What drove that decision?
I always heard it was a good school to go to and I like how the medical school is connected. I like that Temple provides different research opportunities that focus on specific areas of science and medicine that I am interested in.

Tell us about your dreams and goals—do you have an idea of what to do in a career?
I have a dream of becoming a surgeon in either trauma or obstetrics-gynecology. Members of my family have had medical challenges over the years and I want to help other people who go through the same things and overcome the different procedures. I also want to create a program for kids and adults in Philadelphia neighborhoods where they can learn hands-on things about the medical field. 

Have you gotten involved with any Temple programs before?
I played the violin for the Philadelphia String Project at Temple. Also I participated in Temple’s Upward Bound program where I first heard about the Cecil B. Moore Scholars Program. I liked that Temple programs allow students safe spaces to study and provide good mentoring resources that help students develop life skills, social skills, professional skills and academic skills.

“Knowing that I’m capable of earning something as big as a scholarship through the Cecil B. Moore Scholars is really motivating and it lets me know that I can do more in the future.”

Temple University student Anyae Scott
Temple University student Reubin Nathaniel Gantt

Reubin Gantt 
Film and Media Arts | School of Theater, Film and Media Arts
Hunting Park | 19140
Esperanza Academy Charter School 

What made you interested in film?
I always liked playing video games and one day realized I want to share that with other people. I used to watch movies and thought about the editing techniques they used. Later, I heard my high school had film as a major, so I thought it was a good idea to put my video game and media skills together.

How did you feel when you got accepted to Temple and the Cecil B. Moore Scholars Program?
I went to my mom to read it because I didn’t know if I was reading the email wrong, so I was like, “You know mom, just read this because I don’t know if I’m going crazy.” And then, as she started to read it, she was crying. We both were just looking at each other and she kept hugging me and then told the rest of the family. They were also crying, which was an emotional, but happy, moment.

What are you looking forward to the most during your first year?
I’m by myself and have my own responsibilities now. And it’s just a step forward, becoming an adult and that whole experience of learning new things—that’s what I’m most excited for. I can’t wait to expand on what I love and see what interests me the most.

“My coaches in the Cecil B Moore Scholars Program helped me continue to grow into the person that I need to be.”

Kierra Townsend
Biology | College of Science and Technology
North Philadelphia | 19132
Mastery Charter School Pickett Campus

What activities did you do in high school?
I did track and field and cross country. When you’re on that track, it’s like everything blocks out. It’s just you in that moment. Because it’s not about where you place, it’s about your time. You’re focusing on beating this record or trying to beat your own record. It’s very calming. It was good for me, especially mental health-wise. I lost two people back to back that were really important to me in December 2019. When the season came around, it motivated me to do more. It makes me really happy. 

Why do you want to be a surgeon?
Just knowing that I’m able to help someone. That it’s my job everyday to be a front-line worker and wake up and go help someone, keeping them alive and sending them back to their families, hopefully every time. 

How did you react when you found out you’d been chosen as a Scholar?
When I checked my email and saw I was accepted, I cried. I didn’t expect it. I was shocked. But it was definitely tears of joy. I felt like I accomplished something.

“Philadelphia is a good place to come when you’re looking for new opportunities. Because there’s definitely a lot of things here for people.”

Sanaa Pate
Psychology | College of Liberal Arts
North Philadelphia | 19132
Freire Charter School

Why did you choose psychology as your major?
When the pandemic first hit, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to major in. But as I continued to look into it, I thought like, ‘maybe this is for me,’ and [had] a feeling like I could take psychology far.

What are your plans post-graduation?
I think I want to be a therapist. The issues that go on in my family and in my neighborhood, maybe I could help with that if I learn what to do and learn more about the issues, specifically the mental issues that go on.

Had you experienced Temple prior to joining the inaugural Cecil B. Moore Scholars cohort?
I did dual enrollment my junior year [of high school] at Temple. It was a course about entrepreneurship and it was really fun. The teacher would teach us about businesses, we would get speakers, presenters, and they would tell us about their business.

“It’s just a great opportunity. Temple has offered me the most opportunities out of all the colleges I’ve applied to. Of course the [Cecil B. Moore] scholarship, but also the psychology program and also just how much Temple has reached out to me. I take note of those things.”

Temple University student Sanaa Pate

Not all Cecil B. Moore Scholars were available for interview. This year’s cohort also includes:

Rowana Aly
Shanira Law
Mairaliz Negron

To apply to the program, high school seniors should complete a Common Application by the Early Action deadline of Nov. 1. A group of 50 students who have been accepted to Temple will be selected to participate in the free, dual enrollment course by Jan. 10. Then, the cohort of Cecil B. Moore Scholars will be chosen by April to take part in a summer bridge program before their first full-time semester at Temple in the fall. Learn more about the program and how students can apply.