The mission of The Oliver LaGrone Scholarship Committee is to generate, broaden, and nurture post-secondary aspirations of Harrisburg School District students by: providing personal support and advocacy; providing financial assistance for post-secondary education; involving Unitarian Church of Harrisburg members in action toward this purpose; and maintaining the legacy of Oliver LaGrone as the inspiration for the Scholarship.
The LaGrone Scholars
|Year||Scholar||School||Area of Study||Mentor|
|2019||Ayobami Kehinde Akingbesote||TBD||Nursing||Ann Stillwater, School Nurse|
|2018||Sabina Dahal||Penn State - Harrisburg||Biochemistry and Molecular Biology||
Meg Connors, Science Educator and School Administrator
|2017||Roman Colon||Penn State - Harrisburg||Civil Engineering||Mark Malarich, Engineer|
|2016||Taryana Peterson||Temple University||Psychology||Dr. Mary Lynn Fecile, Physician|
|2015||Mark Santana Crespo||Penn State - Harrisburg||Criminal Justice||John Hargreaves, Correctional Consultant|
|2014||Merced Ramirez Saldana||Messiah College||International Business||Jeff Sigel, Marketing VP|
|2013||Daouda Kassimou||Penn State - Harrisburg||Mechanical Engineering||David Spear, Trained Engineer|
|2012||Stanley Lumpkin||Shippensburg University||Management and Marketing||Dr. Rick Hawley, Optometrist|
|2011||Durrell L. Burns||Millersville University||Secondary Education||Nick Wilson, Asst. Principal|
|2010||Dana Washington||Penn State University||Biochemistry||Maureen Callahan, Neurological Nurse|
|2009||Charlé Lamb||West Chester University||Pharmaceutical Product Development||Dr. Susan Rimby, Education Advocate|
|2008||Dionna Jenkins||Indiana Univ. of Pennsylvania||Business Administration||Anita Mentzer, Public Education Advocate|
|2007||LaConteau Williams||Duquesne University||Business Administration||Ann Sitrin, English as a Second Language Instructor|
Hampton University, Hampton, VA
|Psychology||Dr. Christopher Zeigler, Clinical Psychologist|
|2005||Shacoya Pope||University of Pittsburgh||Pre-Medicine||Dr. Megan Borror, Family Medicine Physician|
|2004||Cedric Gatsinzi||DeVry University||Computer Engineering||Ken Tarbell, Information Technology Professional|
|2003||K'asha-Amour Franklin||Florida A&M University||Biology||Wendy Shaver, Teacher|
|2002||Natia Williams||University of Pittsburgh||Physical Therapy||Karen Sweer, Medical Assistant, and Dr. Leon Sweer, Physician|
|2001||Latoya Stewart Long||Harrisburg Community College||Paralegal and Cosmetology, 2004 graduate||Dianne Dusman, Lawyer|
|2001||Steven Walters||The Dickinson School of Law||English and pre-law,
|Don Brown, International Environmental Lawyer/Advocate|
|2000||Cachet Adams||Rutgers University||Computer Studies, 2004 graduate||Cynthia Tyger, Another
First-in-the-Family College Attendee
|1999||Jovani Lewis||Indiana University of Pennsylvania||Drama, 2003 graduate||Mary Lou Harris, Drama Supporter|
|1998||Vivian Nguyen (named Binh Ngo at time of award)||The Pennsylvania State University||Business Administration / Business Information Systems,
|1998||Tony Dickey||Millersville University||Music Education||Dr. Blaise Liffick, Folk Musician & Computer Professor at Millersville University|
|1997||Sieta Bonner||Shippensburg University||Secondary Education Teacher,
|Dr. Robin Miller, Psychologist|
|1996||Student withdrew from school|
|1995||Tracey Bryant||Temple University||Psychology,
|Dr. Elizabeth Hoffman, Psychologist|
|1994||Dominque Urrutia||Hampton University, VA||Elementary education,
|Dawn Duffins, Elementary Teacher|
|1993||Kymberli Wright||Coppin State University, Baltimore, MD||Business Administration,
|Dianne Dusman, Lawyer|
|Delaware State University||Accounting,
|Joan Hellmann, Certified Public Accountant|
OLS’s Unique Features
- Each contribution to the Fund is directed entirely to Scholars.
- The Scholarship is not just for college, but also for any form of accredited post-secondary education.
- The Scholarship may be used to support anything essential to the Scholar’s studies, not just tuition or books.
- The Fund and its activities are initiated and managed by the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg.
- Scholars are supported over four years by a personal relationship with a church member mentor, often from the Scholar’s field of interest.
- Scholar applicants are solicited from the Harrisburg School District.
- Scholar selection is by a panel that includes community as well as church members.
Making A Contribution
Inspiration for Scholarship: Oliver LaGrone
Oliver LaGrone was a noted poet, sculptor, educator, and humanitarian. He was personally a man of towering intellect and prodigious creativity. It is no wonder that this elegant man with a knowing spirit inspired the creation of a scholarship.
The adults in Oliver’s world shaped him mightily. He was born in the Oklahoma Territory, his father having left Alabama after an incident involving two white men who were beating his paternal grandmother. His father had a Normal school education, knew black history and heroes, was financially successful, and was influential in his black community. Mother LaGrone knew that hers was a child of the rough, untamed frontier but nurtured his sense of social justice and his desire to express it personally and artistically. Already at age four he fashioned of Oklahoma red clay, a bust of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass. His older brother Hobart attended Fisk University and knew W.E.B. Dubois, the noted historian and activist.
Although his early efforts to earn a college degree at Howard University were interrupted when his father died, while there LaGrone became personally acquainted with Ralph Bunche, later a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and with Dr. Carter G. Woodson, father of American black history.
Then, while working for the chief engineer on the Boulder Dam, the engineer’s wife took LaGrone to the president of the University of New Mexico, ensuring LaGrone’s enrollment. One of Oliver’s art professors was a friend of the journalist Ernie Pyle, resulting in raves for LaGrone’s talent in one of Pyle’s columns. Oliver LaGrone persevered and graduated from the University of New Mexico with degrees in sociology and fine arts.
Oliver LaGrone worked for Ford in the World War II effort. He was identified as a person of unusual sensibilities and ended up traveling the U.S. on behalf of the president of the United Auto Workers.
LaGrone traveled in Africa, including studying the bronzes of Benin. Upon his return, he met Alex Haley, long before Haley’s notoriety for authoring Roots.
(Original verse by Oliver LaGrone, 1992)
The human race has broken
Those limits that once found
Their efforts to serve a token
Hemmed in by sight, by touch and sound...
The moon, once a distant spectre
Provoked its mystique and our awe;
For youth, a wan mirror; or a reflector,
That roamed the night-sky's gaping maw..
But at last some curious searching minds
Made journeys on their earthbound charts
That calculated that "time that binds"
With space, to reach more distant parts...
So, you the space-age generations
Who saw the moon men's walk
You can project with new transformations
Where pioneers with distant secrets talk
Your vision each day you may expand
By bending your energies with your will.
The vista is endless and more grand
As you resolve, your high hopes to fulfill.
While looking out we may look within,
To husband all our dormant labors;
That here and now we commit to win,
And make the human race our neighbors.
The need for experts in your field,
Is one that ever is steady mounting.
We hope your endeavors will "bring to yield,"
And, of life, a most worthy broadcasting.
Thanks all my dear and special friends.
The best to you, (name of scholar inserted), with these honors
I too am honored that my name attends,
The testimony of these generous donors . . .
We salute you in the spirit, UU's "sentient heart"
Where search for truth and light abide
Where humanity is evident in rendezvous with art,
And life's wayfarers watch each changing tide. . .
George Washington Carver
1950, (bust) UCH, Gift from sculptor to UCH, 1973
1958, Penn State Harrisburg, LaGrone Cultural Arts Center; Unpublished LaGrone poem by same name appears in 1976 Master's thesis, "Oliver LaGrone: Time Walker". City of Harrisburg Gov't. Center, Director's Office, Parks, Recreation and Enrichment [M-F, 8am - 5pm, 717-255-3020].
The University as Family
1975, Penn State Harrisburg, Sculpture Garden, and Penn State Scranton, lawn near library
Dr. Carter Goodwin Woodson
1987, (bust) Penn State Harrisburg, LaGrone Cultural Arts Center, Gift of Lotus J. Johnson, Oliver's daughter, 1998
1987, (bust) UCH foyer, Gift from sculptor to UCH
(bust) State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, reserve, Catalog #86.45
- You are a student at the Harrisburg Public High Schools or a graduate of the Harrisburg School District (graduates must apply within five years of their graduation)
- You are an applicant at an accredited post-secondary institution such as a college, business school, technical school, school of nursing, or an institute of fine arts
- You are motivated to continue your education despite obstacles
- You can demonstrate financial need
- You have gained knowledge and skills from life that will help you succeed in the future
APPLICATION DEADLINE: MARCH 15 | ANNOUNCEMENT OF SELECTION: APRIL 15 | AWARD CEREMONY: LATE APRIL OR EARLY MAY
- Copies of your transcripts from at least the past two semesters,
- A brief portrayal of YOU! This can be in written form, or you can get creative, as described on the application.
- Assistance is available to complete this form or other financial assistance applications. Just call the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg at (717) 564-4761. If you need additional space to answer any question in this application, feel free to add a separate sheet.
The scholarship may be used for any legitimate costs connected with schooling, such as tuition, room, board, books, transportation, and child care. With satisfactory academic performance and required documentation, $2,000 will be available to you each year for four years.
The Oliver LaGrone Scholarship Fund is administered by the Investment Committee of the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg. The OLS Fund is a restricted fund, used only to provide financial assistance for post-secondary education aspirations of Harrisburg School District students.
OLS Committee Annual Events
- Scholarship application refinement
- Scholar, Mentor, and Committee social events
- Review applications for completeness
- Convene Scholar Selection Panel
- Harrisburg High School Award Night participation
- News releases
- Award Ceremony
- Scholar Reception
- Maintaining memory book of Scholars and of Oliver’s sculptures