Graduating from the College of Charleston affords alumni far more than a hard-won degree. It also provides them with a lifelong network of fellow alumni, who serve as friends, colleagues and supporters of each other’s dreams.

Ebony T. Venson ’18 discovered the power of Cougar Nation before she even made that future-shaping commencement promenade across the Cistern. As the latest recipient of the Young Alumni Graduate Scholarship, Venson has harnessed that power to help her attend graduate school at the College of Charleston.

Since 2001, the Young Alumni Graduate Scholarship has provided funding towards tuition at the College of Charleston Graduate School, University of Charleston, South Carolina. Recipients of the scholarship have demonstrated leadership as an undergraduate, with consideration paid to extracurricular activities.

A first-generation college student from Hartsville, South Carolina, Venson fell in love with the College after a tour her senior year of high school. Once enrolled, she hit the campus running and was extremely involved throughout the years spent pursuing her undergraduate degree in political science, up until she graduated cum laude in May of 2018.

Venson, who had cultivated an interest in political science during high school, decided to delve into the topic more after her academic advisor asked if she would be interested in taking political science classes.

“I took this planning and politics class and it really brought together all of the ideas I was interested in, like politics, policy, urban design and sprawl,” says Venson. “I became really interested in the urban planning side of politics.”

And she did all this while serving in numerous leadership roles, including president of Alpha Kappa Alpha, treasurer of the Black Student Union and president of Student Ambassadors. At the same time, Venson was very active in the Political Science Club and a part of the national political science honor society Pi Sigma Alpha. She was also a member and secretary of Omicron Delta Kappa, a leadership honor society.

“Ebony has served as a mentor to first-generation students,” says Karen Burroughs Jones ‘74, director of communications for the Office of Alumni Affairs at the College, which administers the scholarship and looks for candidates with leadership skills.

The scholarship that Venson received will help her pursue a Master of Public Administration at the College. Her career goal is to use that expertise to focus on urban planning.

“For a while I’ve been very interested in housing policy and potentially bettering some of the policies we have here in Charleston,” says Venson, who got the opportunity during her studies to see some of the housing situations in the city and think of ways to potentially fix them.

While at the College, Venson worked on the Race and Social Justice Initiative, a program out of the College’s Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture.

“My biggest focus has been to work toward racial equity in Charleston,” she says, adding the she was inspired in particular by having seen firsthand how people are discriminated against in housing. ”I feel like College of Charleston students get swept into this heavenly oasis that is Charleston, and there are so many more pervasive inequalities in the area than we understand.”

With her limitless energy and growing expertise, and the help of fellow alumni through scholarship support, Venson is perfectly primed to help make her Charleston community all the more equitable, and in doing so, to make her Cougar community deeply proud.

Featured image: Ebony T. Venson ’18 is pursuing a Master of Public Administration with the support of the Young Alumni Graduate Scholarship. (Photo by Heather Moran)