Occidental College Offers Scholarships in Honor of former President Obama, Who Lived in Pasadena as an Oxy Student

Published : Thursday, September 28, 2017 | 6:11 PM

Occidental College has launched a new scholarship program for liberal arts students in honor of former President Barack Obama, who resided in Pasadena for the two years – 1979 to 1981 – that he was a student at the College.

Oxy’s Barack Obama Scholars Program will initially endow two scholarships beginning in fall 2018 and eventually ramp up to 20 scholarships providing a singular liberal arts education designed to encourage them to bring about meaningful change.

In an announcement Wednesday, Occidental College said the scholarships will “empower exceptional students committed to the public good” and will honor and perpetuate the principles President Obama has advanced throughout his life.

“My years at Occidental College sparked my interest in social and political causes, and filled me with the idea that my voice could make a difference,” said President Obama, a member of the Occidental College Class of 1983. “And throughout my time in public service, I’ve tried to use my voice to bring people together, in common effort, around the idea that we could give every young person in America the chance that America gave me.”

“That’s why I’m so humbled by the Barack Obama Scholars Program at Oxy, and proud of its mission to identify promising young people from all backgrounds – with an emphasis on first-generation students, our veterans, and community college transfers – not only to give them access to higher education, but to train the next generation of leaders and active citizens, and fill them with the conviction that they too can change the world,” Obama continued.

President Obama resided in an apartment building at 253 E. Glenarm Street, near Blair High School, while an undergraduate at Occidental College. In December, Pasadena City officials and residents near the area held a commemorative ceremony and unveiled a plaque marking the former residence of the “44th President of the United States of America.”

In Pasadena, Obama spent his days much the way most college students do – studying, having parties, going out to a local favorite pizza joint and enjoying his roommate Hasan Chandoo’s “volcanically” hot Indian cooking.

In the book “Barack Obama: The Making of the Man,” author David Maraniss wrote that Obama, during his sophomore year at Occidental College in the early 1980s, moved into the apartment building (reportedly into Unit 3), between Marengo and Los Robles Avenues in the Madison Heights neighborhood of Pasadena.

According to an online forum on Pasadena’s Library website, a “B. Obama” was listed as living at 253 E. Glenarm in the January, 1981 issue of the Los Angeles-Northeastern Area phone book. The name disappeared by the December 1981 issue.

Before Wednesday’s public launch, Occidental College raised $7 million from a wide range of generous supporters drawn from alumni and friends of the College, including Susan DiMarco and Jeh Johnson, Glenn and Jane Hickerson, Leif and Aileen Isaksen, Ann and Bruce Blume, and Janice Gonzales.

The program represents Occidental’s investment in students who aspire to become change agents but lack the opportunity to fully realize their goals, and continues the legacy of leadership Obama embodied as the College’s most famous alumnus.

“We are delighted to have President Obama’s support for a program that has such potential to have a far-reaching impact in the public sphere,” said Occidental College President Jonathan Veitch. “Occidental will prepare its Obama Scholars to become agents of change in keeping with the spirit and legacy of President Obama’s historic presidency.”

Obama Scholars will receive a loan-free financial package covering tuition, room, board, books and other expenses, including travel. This fully funded program will provide students with the opportunity to pursue a path both academically and beyond the classroom that supports their ambition to make a difference.

Scholars can pursue any field of study Occidental offers. In the first year, students will be matched with faculty advisers to help them shape their personalized plans. Scholars also will be connected with the program’s advisory council, which includes prominent Occidental alumni, former Obama administration officials and other distinguished advisers.

Obama Scholars will embark on a journey that will cover the academic calendar and each summer between them. They will also have the opportunity to participate in Occidental’s unique experiential programs, including the Kahane United Nations Program and Campaign Semester.

For more information on the Barack Obama Scholars Program at Occidental College, please visit www.obamascholars.oxy.edu.









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