UL SYSTEM ANNOUNCES R. F. LEWIS SCHOLARS PROGRAM TO ENHANCE COLLEGIATE EXPERIENCE 

The University of Louisiana System is introducing a new program to enhance the educational experience for exemplary Black male students. Two students from each of the System’s nine member institutions are participating in the inaugural cohort of the R. F. Lewis Scholars program which is a three-year program focusing on three key areas—academics, social advancement and community service.  

“This program has the potential to be transformational not only for the scholars but for the state of Louisiana,” System President Jim Henderson said. “As the program grows with annual cohorts, we will cultivate new Black male leaders for the state of Louisiana and beyond.” 

Eighteen rising sophomores will be chosen annually for the program based on academic merit, financial need and demonstrated leadership skills. The R. F. Lewis Scholars experience is tri-fold. In addition to a full tuition scholarship, cohorts will participate in the community experience which includes a partnership with the Universities of Louisiana Management & Leadership Institute and a service learning project; the social experience which includes an annual focused retreat and academic, social and professional mentorship from business, community and university leaders; and the academic experience which includes research projects and a study abroad opportunity in their junior year. The R. F. Lewis Scholars Program is at no cost to the student participant.  

“To realize the System’s chief aspiration to produce the most educated generation in Louisiana’s history, we must deploy data-informed, targeted interventions to close attainment gaps for underserved populations,” Henderson said. “Similarly, we introduced the Compete LA program targeting Louisiana adults with some college but no degree in 2019.” 

Fundraising for this innovative program is well underway with a goal to raise the funds needed for the first three cohorts by June 2022.  

“We appreciate the committed partnership of area businesses, philanthropic organizations and individuals who have already supported our scholars through the UL System Foundation,” said James Carter, chair of the Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System. “We know investing in these young men will pay dividends in the future as they give back to our state and our communities.”  

The inaugural cohort of R. F. Lewis Scholars were introduced during a pinning ceremony last month at the System’s Black Male Summit. Scholars were pinned by Board Chair James Carter and System President Jim Henderson.  

Below is a list of the 2021 R. F. Lewis Scholars including their university, hometown and degree of study:  

Grambling State University  
JaDeric Talbert, Arcadia, La., Elementary Education
Isaiah Farrell, Bastrop, La., Music Education 

Louisiana Tech University  
Cameron Green, Peoria, Ill., Graphic Design
Da’Voznik Armstrong, Shreveport, La., Engineering 

McNeese State University 
Brandon I. Smith, Lake Charles, La., Mass Communication
Isaiah E. Johnson, Opelousas, La., Human Health Performance 

Nicholls State University 
John Edmonds, New Orleans, La., Geomatics
Lance Jones, New Orleans, La., Political Science 

Northwestern State University  
Ebenezer Aggrey, Baton Rouge, La., Business Administration
Derrick Varnado, Baton Rouge, La., Communications 

Southeastern Louisiana University  
Demille Davis, Covington, La., Music Education
Dylan James, Hammond, La., Nursing 

University of Louisiana at Lafayette 
Caleb Franklin, Zachary, La., Biology PreMed
JaCaleb Smith, Destrehan, La., Chemical Engineering 

University of Louisiana Monroe 
Carl Whitlock, West Monroe, La., Risk Management
Ernest C. Wyatt, Monroe, La., Secondary Education 

University of New Orleans  
Rabruntae Rachal, Shreveport, La., Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Robert Hill, New Orleans, La., Art History  

Click here to learn more about the R. F. Lewis Scholars including ways to financially partner with the program.   

Note: Additional photos available upon request.