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OHIO welcomes a new cohort of Margaret Boyd Scholars; expands scholarship opportunities

In 1873, Margaret Boyd paved the way for generations of OHIO students by becoming the first woman to earn a degree from Ohio University. Today, we honor her legacy by cultivating curious scholars who pursue knowledge, champion equity and engage in their community through the Margaret Boyd Scholars Program.

The program provides diverse undergraduate students with intentional experiences which build skills and encourage self-reflection by providing mentorship and a space for faculty, staff, students, and graduates to interact in mutual support that empowers students to engage with women and other marginalized genders to become leaders and citizens at OHIO and beyond.

“I like to think about Margaret Boyd herself being a pioneering spirit who pushed forward in an environment that didn’t support her as a female scholar, yet she persevered and was successful, helping advance female scholarship and the spirit of resilience,” Kathy Fahl, dean of students at Ohio University, said. “Right now, our scholars are coming out of the pandemic and are finding their place in the world, and I think that the resilience and perseverance Margaret Boyd had is important for these students to aim for throughout their college experience.”

Established in 2013, the Margaret Boyd Scholars Program is open to all students across all majors and selects 20 first-year students for academic enrichment and leadership development throughout their undergraduate careers. Students selected after applying during the summer/fall of their first year will go on to participate in a retreat and activities starting at the beginning of spring semester of their first year. 

“It is an absolute honor to be named a Boyd Scholar in the new cohort for the class of 2027,” Emily Stokes, a Journalism News and Information major from Marysville, Ohio, said. “The honor comes from the long line of other scholars who have been accepted into this program and follow the attributes of Margaret Boyd, the first female graduate at Ohio University. Knowing that we have been chosen to carry on both her legacy and strong moral values and virtues. Additionally, the hard work I have put in so far as a student feels as though it is being recognized and paying off with this honor. I am thrilled to be a part of this program!”

Throughout their time as scholars, students in the cohort will have the opportunity for mentorship, professional development, internships, specialized programming, and seminars. During their first year, students will take a seminar led by faculty and staff from the advisory board which they will then revisit in their final year.

Stokes noted that already within the first few months of being part of the program, she has found a place to belong on campus surrounded by a strong group of peers for whom she can rely on, learn from and grow with. Although the community has been a highlight, she’s also enjoyed the professional networking, opportunity to grow her personal strengths and help empower those around her to grow personally and professionally. 

“Scholars have told me how much they have really enjoyed the program, especially the mentorship aspect from faculty and staff,” Chris Fowler, director of the women’s center, said. “Building relationships with our advisory board and other leaders on campus has really shaped the scholars’ experiences and help advance them in scholarship.”

Recently, the program transitioned from being housed within the Division of Student Affairs to the Women’s Center to allow for more program opportunities and resources for the scholars.

“Our intention for the transition was to create more synergy around the Women’s Center programming and amplify more resources for our scholars,” Fahl added. “Our goal was to make the transition as seamless as possible for our scholars, providing them with more opportunities while keeping the same experiences that have been impactful for past scholars.”

Despite the departmental shift, the program still remains closely aligned with the Division of Student Affairs. 

In addition to the transition, the program also welcomed new advisory board members that will act as mentors for each of the students. The board members include Fahl who has previously worked with this program, as well as faculty members and administrative staff, all who believe in the empowerment of women and furthering student success. 

“I feel so incredibly blessed to have been named a Boyd Scholar,” Lucy Becker, a social work major in the Honors Tutorial College from Cincinnati, said. “The scholars around me in the program are truly so inspiring and uplifting. They have already helped me navigate certain challenges in college. I am so excited about the connections this program has already brought me, and I can't wait to make more connections with other successful people from marginalized gender identities.”

Meet this year’s cohort of Margaret Boyd Scholars.

April 1, 2024
Staff reports