Media release

Five students receive Carter Roger Williams Scholarships

The goal of philanthropists Letitia and the late John Carter is to encourage students to think big about their futures

The Rhode Island Foundation is sending high school seniors from Cranston, East Providence, Newport and Providence off to college with scholarships honoring Roger Williams, the state’s founding father. The four-year, renewable scholarships are through the Carter Roger Williams Initiative, which was launched by philanthropists Letitia and the late John Carter in 2017. This year’s recipients are eligible for $320,000 in aid over four years.

“Thanks to the continued generosity of the Carter family, these students are able to think big about their future. By finding inspiration in Roger Williams, they are on the path to creating their own inspiring stories,” said David N. Cicilline, president and CEO of the Foundation.

This year’s scholarship recipients are Antonio Boyd of Newport, Emanuel Kanger of East Providence, Brettyn-Olivia Newsome of Newport, John Otele of Cranston, and Mandy Tran of Providence. They were selected from nearly 70 applicants based on their academic achievement, financial need, appreciation for Roger Williams’ values and record of community service.

Boyd graduated from Rogers High School. He plans to attend George Washington University to pursue a business and innovation degree and an internship with the CIA. At Rogers, Boyd participated in the National Honor Society, the Honors and Key Club. In addition, he works at Cold Fusion and Perfection Valet Parking.

“I began high school in Nevada, but the education was very behind compared to Rogers. I have been at Rogers since my junior year. I will graduate with a much better education. I knew it was the best thing long-term for my future,” he said.

In his application, Boyd shared how he relates to Roger Williams’ values.

“Reflecting on my own community now makes me realize that a prominent and influential person can build a great community. Roger Williams shows me the great impact I could have on my local community and the power of unity, to work with others and the importance of building connections,” he said.

Kanger graduated from East Providence High School. He plans to attend Dean College to pursue a degree in exercise science. His goal is to become a strength and conditioning mentor. At East Providence High, Kanger participated in the Spanish Honor Society, the Environmental Club, the Art Club, the International Club, the football team, track and field and the AV Club.

Kanger and his mother immigrated from Liberia in 2014. In his application, Kanger shared how he relates to Roger Williams’ values.

“Me and my mother moved to the United States in hopes for a better life. I try to help out the younger classmates by setting examples. If I see somebody doing something that may get them in trouble, I say something. I feel like my story is an example of what this scholarship stands for no doubt,” he said.

Newsome graduated from Rogers High School. She plans to attend Abilene Christian University and study Communication and Sciences Disorders. Her goal is to become a speech pathologist.

“I am told that I am a true helper, and I would love to make a difference in the world. It is so important to be able to help people have a voice and language so that they can clearly communicate their needs, wants, desires and beliefs,” she said.

At Rogers High, Newsome activities included student council, sailing, cross country, gymnastics, the yearbook, and the National Honor Society. She also received the R.I. Secretary of State’s Civic Leadership Award. In addition, she volunteers at the OceanPointe Christian Church and community events such as Night to Shine, a prom for teens and adults with special needs; and Seniors for Seniors, a card-writing campaign for residents of the Grand Islander nursing home during the pandemic.

In her application, Newsome shared how she relates to Roger Williams’ values.

“Like Mr. Williams, I have a love for languages and have seen the benefits of this gift. I know that being multilingual will be helpful to assimilate in any culture that I may journey to as well as assist me in my future profession. While I know that I cannot be fluent in every language, I can learn a few to better understand people I may encounter in my community,” she said.

Otele graduated from Davies Career and Technology High School. He plans to attend the Wentworth Institute of Technology and study computer science and electronics. His goal is to earn a degree in computer engineering.

“Growing grow up watching my parents struggle inspired me. Eventually became clear to me that my success depended on combining American and Nigerian cultures and always working harder than everyone around me,” said, whose parents immigrated from Nigeria om 2003.

At Davies, Otele’s activities included National Honor Society, robotics, and SkillsUSA. In addition, he earned a CX Thin Films Internship and participates in his church, the Google Code Next program, and Oasis.

In his application, Otele shared how he relates to Roger Williams’ values.

“Looking back at Roger Williams' legacy from being exiled by Massachusetts Bay authorities to founding the state of Rhode Island, I see that he not only set an opportunity for me, but for everyone in the USA. The decision to come to America with nothing but hopes and dreams, is what motivates me to strive for more,” he said.

Tran graduated from Classical High School. She plans to attend Brown University and study biomedical or mechanical engineering. Her goal is to go into dentistry. At Classical, her activities included tennis, robotics, band, and yearbook.

Tran sees parallels between her experience at Classical and the life of Roger Williams and his relationship with the Narragansett tribe.

“The power of language is incredible. That’s one of the beautiful things about this school, the mixing of culture and language, of all the backgrounds of the people of Providence coming together to form one community,” she said.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $75 million and awarded $84 million in grants last year. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.