George Washington Carver program continues to benefit multicultural students today

George Washington Carver, the son of slaves, is one of the most famous Iowa State alumni. Most known for his work with peanuts, Carver also helped run the school’s greenhouse.

Victoria Reyna-Rodriguez

The George Washington Carver program has benefited students at Iowa State for years in the form of scholarships and community, and staff and students alike are grateful for the way this program has impacted their lives and the multicultural community at Iowa State.

The George Washington Carver (GWC) program honors George Washington Carver himself, a former Iowa State scholar who studied scientific agriculture. From being born into slavery to gaining an international reputation for his agricultural research, Carver was a man of outstanding persistence. 

“The George Washington Carver Scholarship is a four-year full-tuition scholarship offered to 100 new multicultural first-year students from anywhere in the U.S.,” said Jasmine Tappin, coordinator for retention in the GWC program. “To be eligible for the George Washington Carver Scholarship, students must have a minimum 3.5 GPA and identify as a multicultural student.”

While the GWC Scholarship provides financial aid to students, it also gives students a chance to build a community with other students in this program. The GWC program begins with an orientation, first-year retreat and participation in the Carver Academy. The Carver Academy includes a University Studies course, personal crisis intervention, campus involvement, career exploration and community service requirements.

Tappin explains why this program and its various steps are so important to have at Iowa State.

“This scholarship program not only supports the transition of students of color at ISU, but assists in the retention of these scholars as they work their way towards graduation,” Tappin said. “Within the scholarship program, the Carver scholars participate in courses, community service and peer mentoring. This allows multicultural students to connect and engage with the campus, the Ames community and fellow Carver scholars outside of the first-year class. This program creates space for multicultural students to succeed and equips them with the tools needed to navigate Iowa State.”

This program was built to not only help students financially, but also to help them find a sense of community on campus. 

“Obviously the scholarship has made it easier for me to afford college,” said Rajdeep Oberoi, junior in finance. “But beyond that, it has been massively helpful in terms of me meeting other multicultural students and adapting to Iowa State culture. I’ve met a few friends through the scholarship program that I would not have met otherwise.”

Being part of a marginalized group on campus can be difficult to navigate. This issue is something the members of the GWC program recognize, and they intend to help multicultural students with it. Oberoi shares how these intentions are shown. 

“This scholarship offers a gateway for students of all cultures a way to adapt to Iowa State,” Oberoi said. “It reinforces a student’s belief that they fit into Iowa State and that they deserve to be acknowledged for being a high-achieving multicultural student.”

The GWC program begins freshman year but also follows students throughout all of their years at Iowa State, acting as a constant community. Alexander Beagle, senior in economics, describes how the program has impacted him from his freshman year to present.

“The GWC program has benefited me because it operates as a community rather than a scholarship program,” Beagle said. Beginning with my freshman year, I was immediately surrounded by a network of other multicultural scholars. Along with that, having all the resources at my disposal that the GWC program and the Multicultural Student Affairs office offer, my journey throughout my four years at Iowa State has been extremely rewarding and fun. The GWC program’s direct impact on me has been amazing.”

Beagle not only finds the GWC Scholarship and program rewarding to its participants and community, but also unique due to the variety of students, faculty and staff who take part in the program.

“The George Washington Carver program is special because it gives multicultural students the opportunity to excel throughout their Iowa State University experience,” Beagle said. “There’s no single way to define GWC scholars because each individual is unique, and I think that fact in itself sums up the program and its scholars well.”

Oberoi also expressed his gratitude for the GWC program and its impact on his college career thus far.

“The connections and community outreach I’ve experienced during my time with the program has improved my college experience significantly,” Oberoi said. “The events and volunteering associated with the scholarship have helped me realize what it means to be a multicultural student.” 

Tappin reflected on what she’s learned about the GWC within her new position so far.

“The legacy and leadership of George Washington Carver live on through this program and these scholars,” Tappin said. “I’ve only been in this position for over two months now and I have already seen just how amazing these students are. I am excited to see what I can bring to the table to continue the amazing work being done with this program.”