University Welcomes 2017 MERIT Scholar, Kenyonia Ware

April. 12, 2017 | Joliet, Ill.

Joliet Central graduate Kenyonia Ware will continue her education at the University of St. Francis in Joliet as the 2017 MERIT Scholar. The MERIT Scholar program was created to help recruit, prepare, place, and induct a new generation of teachers of color for Joliet’s schools.

Recent Joliet Central High School graduate Kenyonia Ware has been selected as the 2017 scholarship recipient in the Multicultural Education Recruitment in Teaching (MERIT) program at University of St. Francis (USF). MERIT is a partnership between USF, Joliet Township High School District 204, Joliet Public Schools District 86 and the Joliet business community. It is intended to help recruit, prepare, place, and induct a new generation of teachers of color for Joliet’s schools.

Ware has known since eighth grade that she wanted to be a teacher. “My eighth grade teacher, Mrs. Walker, was very dedicated to her classes. She was known as the teacher you could rely on for help. She showed her caring side and how she loved her students and her job,” says Ware. “I know you should have a job that you look forward to every day. When I think of teaching, I know I would love to do it every day and I would look forward to going.”

Part of the MERIT program agreement requires the recipient to participate in the MERIT fellowship course, serve as an ambassador for the College of Education and complete a year-long internship as a student teacher at a Joliet partner school in the student’s final two semesters. Therefore, after graduation, Ware will make a commitment to teach in one of the Joliet district schools for five years.

Though Ware is a little intimidated to start college, she plans to continue making connections across the university and rely on family support to help her remain successful. “I will continue to connect with Tracy Spesia in the College of Education, Allison Heard in the Office of Institutional Diversity and Joe Wysocki in Campus Ministry. I will lean on my mom, I will work hard, and I will make new friends,” she says.

The MERIT project provides full-tuition scholarships for qualifying minority students who major in education at USF. Joliet students who would like to teach in Joliet’s schools are eligible. Scholars are selected based on qualities that indicate their potential to become exemplary teachers.

For more information about scholarship and grant opportunities at the University of St. Francis, please visit

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves 3,900 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 48,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.