Olivia Crosby only dreamed of the possibility of finishing her collegiate career debt free.

by William Day Defender Contributing Writer    Olivia Crosby only dreamed of the possibility of finishing her collegiate career debt free.  Overwhelmed with the realization that she simply could not afford college – though she desperately wanted to go – the 17-year-old applied to be a Colonel’s Scholar through the Kentucky Fried Chicken Foundation. It was a national competition that she didn’t think she had a real chance of winning. The foundation explained that it received 100,000 applicants and only 75 were selected. The odds were in Crosby’s favor, though, and she joined the fifth class of Colonel’s Scholars and won a $20,000 scholarship. “It’s a blessing.  It gave me the financial opportunity I’ve been waiting on to further my education,” Crosby told the Defender. Crosby graduated from Al Raby High School for Communication and Environment earlier this month.  She begins her freshman year of college this fall at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and is eligible to receive up to $5,000 each year over the next four years to pursue a bachelor’s degree. “I wanted to attend Clark-Atlanta (University) but I knew I couldn’t afford it, I would have had to take out a lot of loans and didn’t want to do that,” Crosby said.  “With the KFC scholarship I can only go to school in-state but my financial aid covered 75 percent of my tuition, the scholarship took care of the rest.  It’s like a full ride,” she said, giggling. Crosby will pursue a degree in biology.  She then plans to attend graduate school and looks forward to a career as an optometrist. “I want to be an optometrist because I like to help people.  I’ve had eye problems myself so I know how hard it is” she said. While attending high school she took part in her school’s music production program, was a cheerleader, was part of the homecoming court, was on the track and cross country teams and served as a homeroom representative, among other activities. “Education is everything I live for, I want to still be learning when I’m 80,” said Crosby. “My mommy and daddy inspired me, my father died when I was 7 and my mommy is sick. I want to do my best for them,” she said The KFC Colonel Scholars program awarded more than $6.5 million in scholarships since its start in 2005.  It is an annual program that is part of the Kentucky Fried Chicken Foundation, an independent charity funded by KFC and its patrons. Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender. Photo: Olivia Crosby (Defender/Dominic Brown)

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