Featured image: Memphis Opportunity Scholarship Trust (M.O.S.T.) Executive Director Abbey Cowens, right front, poses with the organization’s 2023 High School Graduates at the M.O.S.T. Senior Reception at Dixon Gallery & Gardens. Through scholarships funded by donor gifts, M.O.S.T. offers Memphis-area families the opportunity to send their children and teens to schools best equipped to meet their needs, regardless of financial circumstances.
On Wednesday, May 10, 2023, 18 seniors from 10 area private high schools celebrated their graduation at an event hosted by local non-profit M.O.S.T., an organization committed to giving Mid-South families the opportunity to send their children to the schools that best fit their needs, regardless of financial circumstances.
“These scholars have achieved so many great successes in their academic careers and deserve to be celebrated not just as high school graduates but as standouts among their peers,” said founder Bob Solmson. “As pleased as I am that M.O.S.T. is able to support these students by opening doors to opportunities for education to them from Pre-K through 12th grade, I’m also eager to see where each of them goes next and what they achieve in college and in their careers.”
In 1998, Memphis businessman Solmson founded M.O.S.T. on his belief that all children and teens deserve an equal opportunity to receive the education that best fits their needs regardless of their ZIP codes or financial circumstances.
To fulfill that mission, M.O.S.T. offers need-based scholarships to qualifying families in Shelby County who wish to send their children to private schools. In the most recent year on record, we provided 355 needs-based scholarships to Pre-K through 12th grade scholars, totaling $1,039,633. The organization also offers a smaller number of merit-based McDonnell Scholarships, with $35,000 going to 14 high school students in the most recent academic year.
This year’s 18 seniors are:
Atifa Alsaadi, graduating from Pleasant View School and headed to University of Memphis.
Cristian Arocho, graduating from Memphis University School and headed to either Loyola University in Chicago or Emory University in Atlanta.
Maye Edwards, graduating from St. Agnes Academy and headed to The University of Tennessee in Chattanooga.
Tiffany Garcia, graduating from St. Benedict at Auburndale Catholic High School and headed to University of Memphis.
Halle Johnson, graduating from Harding Academy and headed to Middle Tennessee State University.
Nyla Johnson, graduating from Hutchison School and headed to University of Southern California.
Tasneem Khatib, graduating from Pleasant View School and headed to University of Memphis.
David Kut, graduating from Evangelical Christian School and headed to University of Memphis.
Jacob Kute, graduating from Evangelical Christian School and headed to University of Memphis.
Amelia Lydecker, graduating from Concord Academy.
Melissa Meliton, graduating from St. Agnes Academy and headed to University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Axel Mendez Padilla, graduating from Christian Brothers High School and headed to Christain Brothers University.
Oscar Perez, graduating from Christian Brothers High School and headed to Southwest Community College.
Jareth Sauceda, graduating from Christian Brothers High School and headed to Christain Brothers University.
Bryant Smith, Jr., graduating from Harding Academy and headed to Mississippi State University.
Amaya Taylor, graduating from St. Mary’s Episcopal School and headed to Goucher College in Baltimore.
Lacy Williams, graduating from Hutchison School and headed to Howard University.
Nia Yusuf, graduating from Pleasant View School and headed to Rhodes College.
“Thank you so much for all the opportunities the people at M.O.S.T have given me,” wrote graduating Scholar Maye Edwards, who will be taking what she learned at St. Agnes Academy to begin her studies at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in the fall. “I would not be the same person I am today without the help of this wonderful and generous organization. I am beyond grateful for all the hard work you did for me and will continue to do for many other students. I’m definitely proud to be a M.O.S.T. scholar. Thank you again.”
This year marks our 25th anniversary, having opened doors to educational opportunities in the Mid-South for hundreds of families. Thanks to contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations, we has provided over $24 million in scholarships to more than 3,500 children since its inception. In addition to local donations, M.O.S.T. receives funds from the Children's Scholarship Fund, a New York organization that helps support thousands of scholarships across the U.S. After high school graduation, 95% of scholars have gone on to matriculate at 4-year colleges or universities.
“The growing community of M.O.S.T. supporters drives everything we do, helping Memphis families find the best environments to support their children’s specific needs in school,” said Board Chair Alexis Faber. “With this group of seniors, another cohort of graduates is leveraging the academic successes they’ve achieved, the confidence they’ve gained, and the dreams they’ve hatched to write the next chapter of their stories, with the potential to shape the future for generations to come.”
For Mid-South families, our support means more options are available, allowing parents to match their child’s unique aptitudes, interests, needs, and circumstances to the curriculum, faculty, and student body that suits them best.
“Public and private schools don't compete, they collaborate. There's no one-size-fits-all education model for any community,” said Abbey Cowens, Executive Director, who happens to have two school-age in the Memphis area- one in public school and the other in a private school. “Mid-South kids thrive when there are accessible options providing opportunities for success. We're proud to play an important role in connecting students to these opportunities.”