Striving for Excellence

American and UNCF help students reach full potential.

Investing in Education

It’s the start of the second semester of my junior year at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala., and truthfully, there was a time I wasn’t sure my education would progress this far. I say this not because I doubted my determination to excel academically, but because of the uncertainty of financial assistance. Thanks to the generosity of companies such as American Airlines, I am one year closer to graduating and fulfilling my dream of becoming a computer network engineer.

In the fall of my sophomore year, while taking 16 credit hours and still maintaining a high GPA, I had many restless nights and skipped numerous social activities so that I could remain focused on what would be a tough road ahead. I was happy with my academic results, but I was worried whether I would be able to continue beyond that school year. I often thought, I wish there was financial support that recognized my academic capabilities and understood the barriers that are keeping me from reaching my full potential.

A few months before I left school for the summer break, I applied for several United Negro College Fund (UNCF) scholarships. To my pleasant surprise, I received a scholarship that would pay the full tuition for my junior year. What a relief! Knowing that I could continue to strive for educational excellence without the worries of finances, I became more determined than ever. I could not disappoint UNCF and its partners for investing in my education and future.

UNCF’s scholarship program, which relies on contributions from companies and individuals, has been a tremendous help in my road to success. Without it, I would have never fully believed that there are organizations which genuinely care about the accomplishments of students — especially minorities — and might not be here to share my story. Furthermore, the scholarship has allowed me to stay on track toward a degree in management information systems, a field that has interested me since my junior year in high school. With a successful career in technology, I hope to one day be able to give back to UNCF so that other students faced with my situation can also receive financial assistance.

You can support UNCF’s scholarship programs, too, through American’s 35-year partnership. I encourage everyone to purchase an American Airlines UNCF co-branded virtual gift card, through which $5 of every $50 spent is donated to help more than 60,000 students like me. And throughout February, in recognition of Black History Month, American is hosting a special AAdvantage® offer benefitting UNCF. With a minimum donation of $25 to UNCF, American will reward your generosity with 10 AAdvantage miles per dollar. American’s employees are also very involved with UNCF through volunteerism, leadership council positions and direct payroll contributions. 

For decades, UNCF’s slogan has been, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Because of these partnerships, students can challenge their minds and contribute to our world, and make it a better place through education. 

Visit to learn more about how American Airlines helps support UNCF.

Jefferson Lindor is a junior studying management information systems at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala. Originally from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, he hopes to graduate in May 2015 and begin a career in technology, ultimately working his way up to an IT director position. 

How can we improve our site?