On Friday, the White House honored 11 people from across the country as “Champions of Change for College Opportunity”— individuals who have conducted meaningful work in their communities to make higher education more accessible. Among the honorees are Mary Schmidt Campbell ’69 and A’Dorian Murray-Thomas ’16.
The White House said the following about Campbell, who is currently serving as the 10th president of Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga.:
“Dr. Campbell leads an institution that is a global leader in the education of women of African descent, with more than 2,100 students from 41 states and 15 foreign countries and with a graduation rate of 76 percent. Over 79 percent of Spelman students receive financial aid and nearly half of enrolled students receive Pell Grants. Spelman is also leading work examining innovative strategies that may positively impact student learning as a 2015 U.S. Department of Education First in the World grantee.”
The White House also recognized Murray-Thomas, the founder and executive director of SHE Wins Inc., a Newark-based leadership program for girls ages 10-15 years old who have lost family members to violence:
“Before founding SHE Wins, A'Dorian designed and co-facilitated SSEP, a free SAT preparation and self-empowerment program that served students from over 15 different high schools in the Newark area. A'Dorian's organization has provided mentorship, academic, and emotional supports for nearly 50 girls, and has impacted the lives of nearly 1,000 people in the city of Newark through community service projects. The SHE Wins college readiness track also allows scholars to participate in coding programs that increase exposure to STEM fields, attend national leadership conferences, visit college campuses, and enroll in the SHE Wins after-school program.”
Murray-Thomas, Campbell, and the nine other “Champions for Change” were selected specifically for their extraordinary leadership and dedication to the ongoing cause of equal educational opportunity. Their work is targeted towards giving disadvantaged students — namely those belonging to low-income families — the opportunity to receive a college education.
A'Dorian Murray-Thomas '16 graduated from Swarthmore College with a B.A. in political science and educational studies and a minor in public policy. At Swarthmore, she was a Lang Opportunity Scholar, co-president of the Black Student Union, a peer counselor for Career Services, and a member of the women's lacrosse team. Glamour Magazine named her a 2016 College Woman of the Year.
Mary Schmidt Campbell '69 graduated from Swarthmore College with a B.A. in English literature and art history. She has an M.S. in art history and a Ph.D. in humanities from Syracuse University. In 2009, Swarthmore awarded Campbell an honorary Doctor of Human Letters degree; in her commencement address, she described a "Swarthmore quality of mind," which meant having "comfort with massive amounts of new material and complexity, the capacity to probe deeply and persistently with purposeful focus, [and] the insistence on excellence and integrity."