January 19, 2022

Former Cheyney Valedictorian David Birts Selected as UNCF Achievement Capstone Scholarship Recipient

Former Cheyney Valedictorian David Birts Selected as UNCF Achievement Capstone Scholarship Recipient

“The Marathon Continues.” These three words are the title of 2021 Cheyney University of Pennsylvania graduate David Birts’ essay featuring his perspective on modern social activism and why it is important to focus on the long game when it comes to social justice.

Birts’ words, along with his passion and vision, earned him a United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Capstone Scholarship, which will allow him to further his education and pursue a graduate degree. Birts, who graduated in May 2021 and was valedictorian, wrote the essay last June and was recently notified that he was selected to be a recipient of the scholarship. It provides at minimum a $3,000 merit-based award to pay outstanding undergraduate expenses or fund subsequent educational pursuits.

“The premise of my essay was my perspective on modern social activism as it ties into the Civil Rights Movement and why it’s important to focus on the long game when it comes to social justice,” said Birts. “Change doesn’t happen overnight. Freedom isn’t achieved overnight.”

Birts continued, “The Civil Rights Movement isn’t just history to me. My grandfather Donald Birts has always been active in social justice circles. He met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X and he’s still quite active through the Ducky Birts Foundation.”

Cheyney nominated Birts for consideration of the UNCF scholarship. Candidates must have demonstrated high academic achievement and earned the distinction of cum laude or above by close of Fall 2020 Semester and have graduated during the Spring 2021 commencement ceremonies.

Kizzy Morris, Cheyney’s Provost and Chief Academic Officer said Birts’ selection for the scholarship was easy.

“David exemplified all aspects of the eligibility components based on his excellent academic progress, student-peer leadership and his commitment to serving others within the community,” said Morris. “He also exhibited impactful leadership on campus throughout his educational career at Cheyney.”

Birts pursued a degree in business administration with a minor in hotel, restaurant, and tourism. He maintained a 4.0 GPA every semester, set a high standard for his fellow students as Chair of the Cheyney Honors Council, and is a Thurgood Marshall College Fund scholar. During his time at Cheyney, he assisted his peers and professors as a resident assistant, a CARES Mentor, and a peer tutor.

Birts is currently a supplier diversity analyst for Ally Financial Inc., a leader in digital financial services. He is weighing his options and exploring academic opportunities. He is considering law school or pursing an MBA program.

When asked what he would say to new Cheyney students and young Black Americans in general, he said young people have to know their own worth.

“I would tell them to realize they have a purpose, and they must have faith in themselves and in God,” said Birts. “Do everything out of love because that’s when good things happen. In pursuing your goals understand that life is not a free ride. Success isn’t going to be handed to you, you must persevere. Never be afraid to ask questions because that’s how we learn and lastly,

“Cheyney University is going to be the greatest experience of your life. An education at an HBCU opens doors.”

The United Negro College Fund is the largest private scholarship provider to minority group members in the United States. Every year more than $100 million in scholarships are awarded to students attending more than 1,100 schools across the country and that of course includes HBCU’s. The scholarship program was established to mark the 50-year anniversary of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation’s National Achievement Scholarship Program.