Published on March 1st, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


Community service, leadership help Irmo High School student earn Coca-Cola Scholars recognition

Pictured: Irmo High School senior Chiagoziem Ogbonna

IRMO – As a high school senior, Chiagoziem Ogbonna spends a lot of his time planning for the not too distant future, but that hasn’t stopped him from trying to impact his community today.

“I think there needs to be an emphasis on community service. Since I am a part of the next generation, it starts with students like me,” Ogbonna said. “I would encourage other students to think globally and act locally. There’s always a potential that you’ll surprise yourself with how far you can reach.”

The Irmo High School International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme student was recently named one of 23 South Carolina semifinalists in the Coca-Cola Scholars Program, recognizing students nationwide for excellence in academics, leadership and service demonstrated in school and community activities. Just 2,200 students were named semifinalists by the company this year.

“As a premier scholarship provider, we recognize our role in helping young people achieve their college goals,” said Mark Davis, president of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. “The economy continues to affect many students’ ability to attend the college of their choice, so it is critical we continue to stay the course. The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation received nearly 103,000 applications this year, and the Semifinalists are truly some of the most accomplished students in the country.”

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation was created in 1986 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Coca‑Cola and “to establish a legacy for the education of tomorrow’s leaders through college scholarships,” according to a release by the Foundation.  Students like Ogbonna vie for college scholarships worth $20,000 each year. The class of 2015 Coca‑Cola Scholars will mark the 27th consecutive year that the Foundation has awarded scholarships and recognized students nationwide for demonstrating community involvement and leadership.

At Irmo High School, Ogbonna is a member of the soccer team and an honor student in the prestigious IB program. Last fall, he helped organize a dodgeball tournament fundraiser at Irmo High School, which raised more than $1,000 for UNICEF with matching donations from local businesses. Ogbonna hopes to attend a four-year college, majoring in human health or public health.

“Chiagoziem is an exceptional student,” said Irmo High School Principal David Riegel. “His leadership and passion for impacting the community is commendable and something we want to extend out to all our students. I think all of us in (Lexington-Richland School) District Five and all of the high schools aim to have our students think globally. We really want the students to think about how they can impact others. That’s a critical part of our mission as educators.”

Just 250 students nationwide, including one student from South Carolina, advanced to the 2015 Coca-Cola Scholars Regional Finalists this year. Despite not advancing, Ogbonna says being named a semifinalist and leading a community service project that helped many people was reward enough.

“I was really happy to be named a semifinalist,” Ogbonna said. “Even the application process and the essays made me think about what I have done and what I could do further … I definitely plan to do more for the community in the future.”


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