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Avila University's new president announces hundreds of new scholarships

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Courtesy of Avila University
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Avila Students during their graduation and commencement ceremony in 2022.

James Burkee has hit the ground running, as he finds innovative ways to provide full-ride scholarships to over 200 lower-income students.

Before entering the role as president for Avila Univeristy, James Burkee was a senior administrator for College of Mount Saint Vincent in the Bronx, New York. Despite Mount St. Vincent's being bigger than Avila, Burkee says the mission was similar.

"Avila is focused on service to the neighbor," he said. "But in particular, it's the university's focus on serving first-generation and low-income students which distinguishes it from so many other private universities."

Burkee started the role in early August. In partnership with the nonprofit KC Scholars, Avila University has started awarding full-ride scholarships to more high school students.

"Where we landed, was a groundbreaking eight-year agreement for KC Scholars to invest $20 million in getting 100 students per year through college," he said. "So over the next eight years, you'll see 800 students come to Avila, low income students."

Kimberli Picazo, a senior and graphic design major at Avila University, credits this program for helping her attend school in the first place.

"The way I thought of it was, if I don't get scholarships to put me through college, I'm not going," she said. "I would not pay that much money to go to college and get all myself in debt, if I'm not going to have the resources for it."

  • James Burkee, Ph.D, president of Avila University
  • Kimberli Picazo, senior at Avila University
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Reginald David is an assistant producer with Up To Date. You can reach him at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
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