Top Scholarship Earner Makes Dillard her Top Choice
Zariah Nolan announces that she's attending Dillard University during Whitehaven High
School’s Academic Signing Day in April 2017.
|By L. Kasimu Harris/ Dillard University Office of Communications and Marketing
Zariah Nolan couldn’t finish her sentence. The audience sounded like fans at a sporting event.
“This year, I have accumulated $9 million,” Nolan said. The crowd roared and she bent over in laughter and paused a bit.
It was in April during Whitehaven High School’s Academic Signing Day, where the Memphis institution produced a senior class that earned more than $80 million in scholarship offers.
Finally, Nolan finished her sentence, informing the room of supporters that she earned $9.8 million in offers and then held up her Dillard University royal blue and white pennant. The crowd cheered again.
“I really love HBCUs, but I go hard for Dillard,” she said this summer, while adding
that she is counting until New Orleans. Her love for Fair Dillard is one that has
burgeoned for years. She attributes that to her godmother, Janice Hansbrough-Eason,
‘90, who has long sung the praises of the University. Since her sophomore year, Nolan
has attended the Dillard University Concert Choir’s performance in Memphis. Now, she’s
ready to join. Nolan said one of her mentors, Dr. Umieca Hankton, ‘03, described
the choir as an experience never to be traded for the world.
Nolan earned 17 full academic scholarships, but has long wanted to attend Dillard University.
Nolan first visited campus in 2015, during the University’s fall break and wasn’t certain if it was a fit. “It was quiet and everything was white and I was like, okay what’s going on,” she recalled. But, she was ecstatic about meeting someone from Twitter. As the tour bus passed the Dillard University sign in front of the campus, she pulled out her phone and tweeted at @HipHopPrez, Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough, President of Dillard University, that she’d love to meet him in person. He responded, “let’s make it happen.”
“Every other campus, you didn’t see their president just walking around campus,” she said, talking about her many college visits. Nolan introduced herself and recalled Kimbrough getting excited and giving her a hug and taking a few pictures with her.
However--she was still considering other HBCUs, when she left the Oaks. Nolan had options and was accepted to every school she applied to, more than 100, and received 17 full scholarship offers. She considered places in close proximity to family, with the best major and that gave the most scholarship money.
A few months later, Nolan took to twitter again and reached out to people from DU, ‘20, including John Lawson, and they took her under their wings. In November 2016, she returned to campus for Shadow Day, where prospective students accompanied current students to classes, lunch in Kearney and other activities. Shadow Day was during homecoming and Nolan had an unforgettable revelation. It was Saturday morning and DU students taught prospects the DU Swag Surf. Afterwards, they went to the homecoming cookout, where the fraternities and sororities chanted and danced. Finally, the current students and prospects attended the basketball game, where they performed the dance on the court. Nolan said she practiced a few times, because she wanted to look like a Bleu Devil.
“That moment was when I knew that this is where I need to be,” she recalled. She added that she knew she could excel academically anywhere, but wondered where she’d fit in and if she could make that place her home. Nolan had narrowed the list down to two schools, Spelman and Dillard and decided that she didn’t need to attend a large college to make her time on campus memorable.
|Christopher Stewart, '08, Associate Director of Recruitment, Admissions & Programming, and Nolan at a college fair.|
“It ultimately came down to where I want to be,” Nolan said and intends on majoring
in psychology and completing the 3/2 program, where she earns a bachelor's from Dillard
and then a master's from Western Michigan. “I wanted to grow and in order to grow,
I needed to be at Dillard.”