University President Michael Drake. Credit: Courtesy of OSU

University President Michael Drake. Credit: Courtesy of OSU

Ohio State recently founded the President’s Prize in order to support graduating seniors who are passionate about social change. Starting this year, two will be chosen annually as President’s Prize scholars.

For this year, the award is open to any full-time senior students with a minimum 2.0 GPA who will graduate in Autumn 2016, Spring 2017 or Summer 2017. Students need to submit an original and creative project idea aimed at improving people’s lives in a local, national or global community.

“Ohio State is focused on helping to solve the critical issues of our time,” University President Michael Drake said in a release. “I look forward to seeing the incredible innovations of our newest alumni as they harness the power and knowledge of Buckeye Nation for change.”

Each of the recipients will not only receive a living stipend of $50,000 and another $50,000 in startup funding, but they will also have various opportunities to connect with OSU faculty staff, donors and alumni, as well as outside partners and companies, according to OSU’s website.

The project proposals do not need to be associated with students’ areas of study, according to OSU’s website. Students from all areas of study will be considered as long as they care about the welfare of others and are aware of social inequalities.

Some students who are interested in social change are excited about this new prize.

Maryem Menad, a fourth-year in biology, is involved with Alpha Phi Omega, a fraternity that does service activities on and off campus.

“I think it’s definitely a great opportunity for people who are trying to make differences to be able to get benefits because there are a lot of people taking a lot of loans to continue their education,” Menad said. “So being able to have a good portion of it covered would definitely be beneficial.”

Sterling Clemmons, a first-year in public affairs and journalism, said she has been dedicated to spreading awareness of issues concerning the LGBT community since high school.

“It’s definitely something I feel like I would need to look more into to get more information about it,” she said. “I would spread the word to some of my other peers and give them the opportunity.”

But Clemmons said that whether such a prize would raise the number of students engaging with service activities remains to be seen.

“The thing is, you can’t do social changes unless you actually care, to be honest,” she said. “So if people are just doing it for the money, it will reflect through whatever application process they have to go through. And ultimately, they won’t get it. I feel like people who are passionate, they will continue to be passionate.”

Information sessions will explain in detail what materials are needed. Students are required to submit their applications by July 15 through the application portal on OSU’s President’s Prize website.