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RIT welcomes city scholars who received full scholarships

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Elizabeth Lamark/RIT
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Noemi Lopez, middle, talking to Keith Jenkins, left.

Rochester Institute of Technology is welcoming 22 Rochester City School District students who are attending on full scholarships.

Brett Renaud is one of this year’s Destler/Johnson Rochester city scholars. The award is specifically for graduates of the district to attend RIT tuition-free.

Inspired by “Star Wars” and “The Flash,” Renaud is studying astrophysics, mostly to solve some mysteries related to theoretical physics.

“Like discover more about black holes, possibly other universes,” Renaud said. “Because from my knowledge right now, I'm pretty certain that it's absolutely plausible. So, I just want to figure that out.”

Renaud graduated from Rochester Prep High School. He was 13 when his mom died. At home, he said he’s helped his dad take care of the house and his two younger brothers.

“One thing that I love to do is cook for the family. Everybody loves my food,” he said. “And so my brothers have dietary requirements, like my baby brother, he has a (gastronomy) tube. So I had to feed him and give him his medication. My middle brother has multiple disabilities so I had to help them get around and all of that.”

Now as an awardee of the Rochester City scholarship program and the Farash First in Family Scholarship, Renaud plans to complete bachelor’s and master's degrees in five years.

Noemi Lopez, a graduate of the district’s Early College International High School, will also be attending RIT, where she’ll study international business. She is also a city scholar and was offered the Presidential Scholarship as well.

Part of what inspired her in this direction, she said, is her roots. Her family is from Cuba.

“Knowing that I have like lineage that isn't just in the U.S. definitely inspired me to like, also want to do international stuff,” Lopez said. “Not only because I want to see other cultures, but I also want to discover my own more.”

Keith Jenkins, vice president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion at RIT, said scholarship programs like this one are crucial to building more diversity on campus. In 2020, about 60% of students at RIT were white.

“The diversity of students brings about differing perspectives,” Jenkins said. “It opens the minds of any students within that classroom as well as the professors.”

However, very few college students are awarded scholarships. Renaud is one of 22 students accepted for this particular award. They make up about 0.6% of the incoming student body.

Still, for Renaud, it’s game-changing. Now, his goal is to stay focused on his dreams.

“I have this mindset. If you want to do better at what you want to do, compare yourself to a better version of yourself and only yourself. You just have to know that person exists.”

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Elizabeth Lamark/RIT
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Rochester City Scholarship awardees pose for a group photo outside RIT president David Munson's residence

Noelle E. C. Evans is an education reporter/producer with a background in documentary filmmaking and education.