College Introduces Build Albion Fellows Class of 2021

Group of nine incoming first-year students is the largest yet as the program prepares to enter its third year

April 28, 2017

Group shot of Build Albion Fellows students.

The newest group of Build Albion Fellows, members of the Class of 2021, from left: Zion Williams, Zaria Walker, Jade Torrey, Nicole Young, Morgan Armstrong, Ajani Wilson, Antonio Nelson, Marco Lang and Governor Stovall.

By Chuck Carlson

Three years ago, Build Albion Fellows was an intriguing idea.

Now, it has grown, literally, into something much more than that.

In an April 27 evening ceremony in Upper Baldwin Hall, Albion College introduced its third, and largest, class of Build Albion Fellows. The new class will feature nine incoming first-year students who reside in the local school district and attended Albion schools and who will receive four-year tuition, room and board from the College. In return the Fellows will engage in service projects that will help the community. The first class had seven students announced in 2015 and there were eight last year.

The Build Albion Fellows program was first introduced in November 2014 as a way to help local students interested in pursuing a liberal arts education get that opportunity at Albion College.

Eligible students need at least three years in Albion Public Schools (preferably grades 6-8), live within the Albion school district and, after being admitted to Albion College, demonstrate high financial need based on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Clarence Stirgus, ’12, Albion’s assistant director for global diversity, worked with Director Keena Williams to identify and interview students who could benefit from the program. He said the number of applicants increased this year due to earlier deadlines and a comprehensive effort from Lloyd McPartlin, associate director of admission, and admission counselor and Albion native Rhiki Swinton, ‘16.

“Admissions did a great job on recruitment,” Stirgus said. “They did a great job of getting the word out.”

With the new class of Fellows, Stirgus said there are now 23 students involved in the program, and they will be working together on community projects around the area.

“It’s about togetherness,” he said. “The program has moved to do larger things in service throughout each semester. We do look for individual qualities, but we also want to make sure they work together as individual cohorts and also with other classes as well. I think it speaks well for the program. We have worked tirelessly to make sure we’re helping students academically, socially and emotionally. The college experience is much more than academics.”

President Mauri Ditzler spoke to the gathering about the hope for the Fellows to be a part of a group that does “amazing things” at Albion and beyond and eventually returns to Albion to help the community thrive.

“It may take 20 years,” he said. “But some really good investments take a long time. We’re in this for the long haul.”

Members of the Build Albion Fellows Class of 2021 include (in alphabetical order):

Morgan Armstrong: An Albion native, she hopes to be a part of the Black Student Alliance, cheerleading and Greek life. She plans to major in psychology and neuroscience. She will be graduating from Marshall High School.

Marco Lang: A resident of Albion, he plans to major in health science and physical therapy. He will graduate from Marshall High School.

Antonio Nelson: He has been involved with a number of community activities as a resident of Albion, including singing performances with NAACP events and participating in Citizens to Beautify Albion. He will graduate from Marshall High School.

Governor Stovall: An Albion native, he plans to major in history and performing arts and hopes to be involved in choir and theatre. He will graduate from Marshall High School.

Jade Torrey: An Albion native, community service has been a major part of her life. She hopes to be on the cheerleading team. She will graduate from Marshall High School.

Zaria Walker: She is involved in a number of community service projects in Battle Creek and Marshall. With plans to pursue music and athletic training and perhaps play for the Britons basketball team, she will graduate from Marshall High School.

Zion Williams: A native of Albion, he plans to major in physical therapy and business and hopes to play for the Albion basketball team. He will graduate from Jackson High School.

Ajani Wilson: She is a native of Albion and plans to major in psychology and plans to take part in the Albion Symphonic Band. She will graduate from Marshall High School.

Nicole Young: Born and raised in Albion, she wants to major in business and pre-med and participate on the Albion cheerleading team. She will graduate from Homer High School.