A Gift that Matters

Supporting Underserved Students at SU is a Lasting Way to Make a Difference


Our Time Has Come alumnus Nahnsan Guseh ’19, G’20

Not only is Coming Back Together a wonderful weekend of fellowship and reconnection for Syracuse University’s Black and Brown alumni, the reunion weekend also provides a powerful fundraising impetus for the Our Time Has Come (OTHC) Scholarship Program. “Every three years we have the opportunity to ask our alumni to think big and reevaluate what they can do to assist today’s students,” says Rachel Vassel ’91, assistant vice president of multicultural advancement.

While COVID-19 may have necessitated pushing CBT to 2021, it has also disproportionately increased financial need for students of color. At the same time, heightened awareness of systemic racism and racial injustice—which also play a role in students’ ability to obtain higher education—have prompted many individuals to consider how their own actions can make a difference. That includes financial support.

In response, the Office of Multicultural Advancement has launched a short-term fund drive for the Our Time Has Come Program, aiming to raise $500,000 between August and the virtual CBT reunion to be held on October 16. That event will culminate with a two-hour, star-studded video telethon, focusing on scholars past and present and the support that has changed the trajectory of their lives.

“For more than 30 years, Our Time Has Come has supported underserved students at Syracuse University, offering both financial support and the mentorship and professional development to help them succeed and providing a home community,” says Vassel. “Historically, the program has largely been supported by alumni of color, those who have been helped by the program and those who want to lend a hand to students like themselves.”

But Vassel believes current public awareness and concern about racial injustice may make the program appealing to a wider audience of donors. “I know there are many individuals and corporations who have been deeply impacted by current events surrounding race over recent months and are looking to support causes that make a difference,” she says. “I can think of no better means than helping underserved students—many of whom are first-generation—obtain a college education and become successful, professional adults.”

Since it was established in 1987, the OTHC Scholarship Program has awarded nearly 1,500 scholarships. Currently, there are 50 separate scholarship funded under the program, which last year supported 62 students (25 first-generation college students), who had an average GPA of 3.6 and a 100-percent graduation rate.

“This program changes lives,” says Vassel. “We hear it over and over again. For many students, our scholarship makes the difference in them coming to Syracuse University and in their ability to stay in school to earn their degree.”

One of those is Nahnsan Guseh ’10, G’20, who received OTHC support as an undergraduate and while earning a master’s degree in applied data science. “I would like to thank the OTHC scholarship donors for making my transition to Syracuse University more seamless by providing me with the resources to do my best,” he says. “Thank you for believing in us students.”

To learn more about Our Time Has Come, or to make a gift, visit alumni-of-color.syr.edu/give-now/.

Mark your calendars for October 16 and plan to tune in to the OTHC telethon from 7 to 9 p.m., featuring special guests including Vanessa Williams ’85, Kevin Richardson, the Syracuse Eight, and others.