Cabrini students have had mixed opinions when they learned that two women were receiving full scholarships to the university on Saturday, March 26.
On Jan. 18, Cabrini announced its partnership with the Miss Philadelphia Scholarship Organization in which the winners of the pageant are offered full scholarships to the university.
However, students were not ecstatic when learning that the two winners were receiving full rides.
“One of my closest friends had to drop out because she couldn’t afford it and pay for schooling and I feel like if she knew she would be infuriated and let down because Cabrini prides itself on being a Hispanic serving institution,” Alexander Sanchez, junior psychology major, said.
“I think on Cabrini’s part, it’s not right because these opportunities are not held for any other minority groups… or anyone else for that matter. The people who participate in these pageants are women, predominately white, so they mean for it to be or not, it is geared towards a certain demographic. If they deserve these type of opportunities, then everyone else should too,” Sanchez said.
“I get it, I get it’s a great marketing ploy, it’s a great way for Cabrini to get on the map, it’s a great way to get people to recognize Cabrini and how great Cabrini is, but it’s a little disheartening and a little disturbing how we are known to be this school of diversity, and the two pageant winners got a full ride,” Nia Alvarez-Mapp, a senior philosophy and writing major, said.
Alvarez-Mapp also pointed out that many students here who actively work on this campus are still struggling to pay for student loans, who are food insecure and are still worried about if they’re coming back for next semester because they can’t afford it.
“I’m not saying that they don’t deserve it; they probably worked hard for it; it’s just a sad moment for us. In the terms of its whiteness of it all, a lot of beauty pageants do have a controversy of white women; it’s ironic for Cabrini being a social justice school, to be so diverse, but our two symbols of full scholarship academic girls are white women,” Alvarez-Mapp said.
Harsh feelings aside, students also believe that these young women did earn these scholarships because beauty pageants are a lot of work. However, they agreed that there should be more scholarship opportunities for students who already attend Cabrini.
Forming the partnership
The Miss Philadelphia Organization was looking to partner with a university. They had previously been sponsored by Drexel University so for years Drexel provided a matching scholarship and they used to have the competition on Drexel’s campus. The partnership started to dissolve after there was a transition of power.
Dr. Michelle Filling-Brown, the acting dean for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, started to be involved when she learned that the organization was looking for a new university partner and approached different universities in the area seeking that kind of sponsorship. They eventually reached out to Cabrini and then people from enrollment management, admissions, financial aid and vice presidents were involved in the conversation to develop a sponsorship.
Filling-Brown said that every young woman who competes has a platform, some cause that she is truly passionate about and for which she is serving as an advocate. In that regard, these women are talking about Cabrini wherever they go; they’re going to be ambassadors for the city of Philadelphia and Cabrini as well, so any opportunity the university can take to build Cabrini’s brand is a good thing.
Filling-Brown also wanted to encourage students to keep talking to their advisers and financial aid to find and apply for the scholarships that accommodate students on campus. Although it does not help everyone, and many students feel neglected from not receiving this type of financial aid, there are many scholarships out there for students.
To defuse one part of the conversation of race is that the competition is open to young women of all backgrounds. Filling-Brown pointed out that some of the former Miss Philadelphia winners are underrepresented women. “Just because this year’s two winners happen to be white women, doesn’t mean that’s the case forever. Historically, it has not been that way in the past as many black and Hispanic women have won previously,” Filling-Brown said.
“I can understand the frustration and the stigma that involves pageantry, absolutely,” Filling-Brown said. “It’s great that we can provide scholarships to younger people, especially young women. I understand the frustration by students, but I also think that if we can give scholarships to young people in the Philadelphia area, that is awesome. The more we can have an awareness of who we are, what we do and what we stand for, the better.”