“HBCUs have an important role in the African American community as schools that first gave Black students the opportunity to obtain higher education when basically no other colleges would,” said Global Diversity & Inclusion and External Engagement Lead, CeLois Steele. “I am proud that BMS acknowledges the value of HBCUs and has invested in building a pipeline for sourcing some of the best and brightest African American talent.”
Steele, who led the effort to partner with the ELC Scholarship Program to provide these scholarships, said there is much more to this than just awarding funds to deserving students. A leadership committee was established with representation across business units at BMS and each member serves as a mentor to the students.
“Each committee member will have a one-on-one relationship with the students throughout the year,” Steele said. “These are senior-level people, making a big commitment to students who will be future contributors to the workforce. It’s a valuable opportunity for our mentors and for our scholars to get to know BMS, who we are and what we stand for. They can connect with high-ranking professionals and say, ‘If you can be an executive at BMS, then I could be an executive at BMS,’” she said.
“BMS’ partnership with the ELC and, in particular, with these top-rated HBCUs is more important now than ever to help address health disparities highlighted most recently by the COVID-19 disproportionate impact on communities of color,” said Amadou Diarra, senior vice president, Global Policy & Government Affairs and ELC member. “We are proud to support these talented students and shepherd them on their path to success.”
The scholarship recipients are:
- Abeku A. Abercrombie, North Carolina A&T State University
- Kumasi Odell Bangundi-Smothers, Howard University
- Janiya C. Brooks, Howard University
- Ashlynn Gray, Spelman College
- Danielle A. Harris, Hampton University
- Ke’von T. Hamilton, Morehouse College
- Pierce D. Hodges, Howard University
- Jordyn Jackson, Xavier University of LA
- Jhavani R. Mezier, Fort Valley State University
- Sierra Williams-McLeod, Hampton University
“Being selected for this scholarship was an honor and a privilege. I have gained not only financial support in my academic career, but also key mentors from BMS,” said Pierce Hodges, a sophomore biology major/chemistry minor at Howard University. “I am extremely excited to grow more in these relationships and learn more about BMS as a whole.”
“I am immensely grateful to have a holistic support system, both through financial support and mentorship from ELC-BMS staff,” said Sierra Williams-McLeod, a senior biochemistry major/Spanish minor at Hampton University. “Considering the virtual space we are in, the program has done an excellent job of making me feel supported and seen as a scholar. From this experience, I hope to strengthen my interpersonal and leadership skills while gaining exposure to the various career paths at Bristol Myers Squibb.”
The partnership further expands BMS’ relationship with the ELC, Steele added, a membership organization committed to increasing the number of global Black executives in CEO and C-Suite roles and on corporate boards and in Fortune 1000 and Global 500 equivalent companies. The BMS HBCU customized scholarship program was designed to incorporate BMS values — it is the first time the company has supported the ELC’s Scholarship Program and BMS is the first and only pharmaceutical company among the seven total companies that participate in the program.
Yet another benefit exists thanks to the partnership, Steele said. “We can strengthen our relationships with these premier HBCUs — we will get to know these colleges and universities and they can get to know us as a valued corporate partner committed to investing in African American talent.”