A ‘quest for an education’

Chibunnam Gerald Onyedika stands in the Case Quad in fall, wearing a collared shirt and gray sweater with a backpack on one shoulder
Chibunnam Gerald Onyedika

Scholarship for immigrant students honors CWRU alumnus

Chibunnam Gerald Onyedika had two top criteria when he began looking at colleges: strong engineering programs and opportunities to connect one on one with professors.

His father—who had moved the family to Maryland from Nigeria five years earlier—prioritized affordability, encouraging his son to consider state universities.

But once the younger Onyedika visited Case Western Reserve, he knew it was the place for him, even if he had to take out loans.

Fortunately, when he received his acceptance to CWRU, he also learned he was one of two inaugural recipients of the Jack H. Green Family Scholarship—specifically intended to benefit students who are immigrants or children of immigrants.

A sepia image of a young Jack Green standing outside, wearing a sweater and collared shirt
Jack H. Green

“This is a huge relief,” Onyedika said. “I don’t have to take on as many loans.”

The son of Russian immigrants, Jack Green was a first-generation graduate of Adelbert College, one of the institutions that became part of Case Western Reserve. He went on to earn his law degree at CWRU in 1930 and then, seven years later, co-founded the insurance company now known as Progressive.

Green’s daughter, Nancy G. Dickenson, established the scholarship to honor her father and expand opportunities for students who are immigrants or children of immigrants.  

“Their beginnings, their lives, their successes were all the result of an immigrant’s daring voyage,” Dickenson wrote of her father and his siblings. “As new immigrants arrive, as new generations thrive, our family wishes to honor their determination and their quest for an education.”

Ye Phyo stands in the Case Quad in fall, wearing a gray sweater and black jacket
Ye Phyo

Education was one of several factors prompting Ye Phyo’s family to move from Myanmar to the U.S. in 2011. Phyo is now a first-year nursing student and says the Green Family Scholarship gives him more freedom to pursue his professional ambitions.

“What brought me to CWRU was its prestigious nursing program that provides hands-on experience right from the get-go,” he said. “Having this scholarship allows me to put 100% of my effort into my studies without having to worry about finding a [part-time] job.”

Originally published in the winter 2024 issue of Forward Thinking magazine