All posts by bernies

Work For The Bernie

We are hiring! The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program needs a qualified Program Administrator to help with important projects and administrative tasks. The assignment is part-time, requiring 5-10 hours per week. Microsoft Office/Google Suite experience required. See attachment for complete job description. If you are interested, please email

BSAP at the Volunteer Fair

It was a beautiful day on September 7 in downtown Rockville, Maryland for the Emmes Cares Community Nonprofit Fair. This event provides an opportunity for community nonprofits to share their mission and needs with the local community.  It also provides a venue for nonprofits to provide community members with information on the ways they may contribute to each nonprofit, including donations of time, services, goods and funds.

The Bernie was represented by Board member Sonya Turner, pictured above.



  • 51 awardees composed of 33 prior awardees and 18 new 
  • 8 are completing high school and beginning college in 2019
  • 41 women, 10 men


  • 13 medical field–pediatrician, neuro-surgeon, occupational therapist, 1 psychiatrist, 1 veterinarian 
  • 8 business, including one director of a nonprofit
  • 15 computer science/IT, cyber security, software engineering
  • 1 mechanical engineer
  • 1 education/teaching/school principal
  • 3 human resources
  • 1 criminal justice/law enforcement/detective
  • 4 attorneys – criminal, family abuse, children, immigration, and business
  • 2 social worker, 1 therapist
  • 1 visual arts/intermedia artist, 1 creative media director

From the BSAP Awards, Christ-Clemens Athiogbey

Hello my name is Christ-Clemens Athiogbey and I will be graduating from Springbrook High School on June 12th and will be attending University of Richmond in the fall. I have two sisters and a brother. My siblings have always motivated me to be the best person I can be and to always have goals. Having goals means you are truly living. I get a lot of information and motivation from my brother to work hard to get to where I want to be in life. Like him, being able to teach me about cyber security and real estate. I even saw this myself starting in high school realizing that you need to work in order to get where you want to be in life. In middle school, I never really took school seriously and just did enough to get by. Then in my freshman year of high school, I realized I needed to do better to accomplish goals and reach a better version of myself that I would truly be proud of. Just like in getting this scholarship I went ahead and looked for scholarships to apply for. And that’s why I’m here right now. Nothing just comes to you, you have to work for it. 

Thank you

Tracee Matthias Recognized by MC

On May 15, 2019, BSAP Board Member Tracee Matthias was one of nine recipients awarded the Inaugural 2019 Excellence in Equity Award, presented by Montgomery College's President's Advisory Committee on Equity and Inclusion.

Ms. Tracee Matthias embraces the goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion through her involvement with various groups and committees that are directly linked to the success of currently enrolled Montgomery College students and prospective future students. Since 2007, she has served on the Bernie Scholarship Awards Program (BSAP) Board of Directors. In 2019, Ms. Matthias provided the BSAP with technical support as they navigated the process of establishing a named scholarship that makes an annual $25,000 contribution to the Montgomery College Foundation (MCF). Future eligible scholars who enroll at Montgomery College will apply for BSAP funds using the MCF application. These scholars will simultaneously be considered for additional scholarships offered through MCF. For 12 years, BSAP has relied on Ms. Matthias’ business acumen and higher education expertise to advance student success.

Potential future Montgomery College students have benefited from Ms. Matthias grass roots efforts to address the projected STEAM worker shortage. Inspired by the summer STEAM camps operated at the College’s Center for Early Education, Ms. Matthias was awarded a Maryland State Department of Education grant to establish a robotics program at Takoma Park Elementary School. This early childhood education initiative brings coding and robotics instruction to over 400 first grade and second grade students with the primary goal of increasing the number of students who meet or exceed grade level proficiency targets in mathematics and reading. By the mid-year report, students in both grades exceeded the project goals related to mathematics and second grade students exceeded the goal related to reading. The grant will end at the conclusion of the school year, but the funded robotics supplies will remain with the school for future use. Ms. Matthias has reached out to East Silver Spring Elementary School and Piney Branch Elementary School to discuss the opportunity of establishing a robotics program at their school. She will also seek out a local corporate sponsor to fund these initiatives in future years.

Within the College, Ms. Matthias serves as the WD&CE Council chair and a member of the College Council. Her work in governance focuses on ensuring that students enrolled in noncredit courses have full access to the services and supports designed to help students succeed. Last year, she authored a council recommendation to expand part-time student assistant work opportunities to noncredit students. The recommendation was approved and is awaiting implementation from the Office of Administrative and Fiscal Services. This year, she is leading the council focused on access to student services and investigating where College courses are offered. Many noncredit students are in courses that serve as a bridge to the College’s certificate and degree programs. Ms. Matthias’ efforts in governance will help to strengthen that bridge for students and lift some of the institutional barriers that impede their success.

The recently chartered Montgomery College chapter of the American Association for Women in Community Colleges (AAWCC) is led by Ms. Matthias. The AAWCC changes women’s lives through education, service and leadership development. The chapter embodies this mission through activities that “move beyond the food pantry”. Chapter members support the Student Health and Wellness (SHaW) Center for Success’ Mobile Market, Fuel for Success and feminine hygiene product collection drives. Ms. Matthias also wrote recommendation letters for students to be considered for national AAWCC scholarships and nominations for College employees to be honored with an Under 40 award for their contributions at community colleges.

Ms. Matthias has a keen talent of comprehending policies, procedures, best practices and explaining them to other audiences in terms they can understand. When issues are brought to her attention, she will strive to deeply understand the issues and assist with formulating a plan to address the concerns. For example, when the Early Childhood Education program director was invited to collaborate with two deans on a Maryland Department of Labor and Licensing Regulation EARN grant, Ms. Matthias coached her through the grant application and extended her support by joining the writing team to ensure the quality of instruction provided through the grant met the standards of the program director. The grant was funded, and this program director has gone on to acquire two additional grants and is meeting with funders about future awards. Ms. Matthias take on grants is that anyone can write them as long as they follow the rules in the application. She has planted a seed of grant writing confidence that has blossomed into multiple funded awards for the College.

Professional development is another area where Ms. Matthias advocates for others to become engaged. When she joined the professional development leave committee, she recruited three other people to join the committee. She encourages her peers to take advantage of every professional development opportunity that does not disrupt their ability to complete their work. Her encouragement led to a direct report completing a BS degree, continuing to achieve her master’s degree and presently studying for a doctorate. Both of her direct reports received promotions to program director positions as a result of their hard work and her advocacy for advancement. When two of the College’s childcare centers closed, she coached two staff on how to improve their resume and interview skills. Both were hired as lead teachers at the Center for Early Education on the Germantown campus. The team at the Educational Opportunity Center benefited from her open support of professional development. Five years after transitioning from leading the EOC, she continues to send resources to the EOC director to support her staff and program participants.

Ms. Matthias embraces the goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She actively supports the success of everyone, especially our students and employees. Even when there is not a direct link to her daily duties, she commits to projects because they advance opportunities for student success. None of these accomplishments are going to appear on a performance evaluation, but the outcome of these activities is what keeps Ms. Matthias motivated to continue to serve our students.

Congratulations Tracee on your accomplishment and thank you for your years of service on the BSAP board!

Tracee Mathias

From the BSAP Awards, Armoni Jackson


Good evening,

Here is a little insight about who I am. I am the only daughter in my family. I grew up with three older brothers and we were raised by our mom because my dad couldn't be there to raise us. But we were surrounded by a lot of love. Growing up in a single family home was rough, not just because we struggled financially, but because I always wondered what it was like to grow up with two parents. But today I decided not to spend my time with you complaining about how hard and sad my life was moving every year and barely making ends meet. Because I decided to rejoice and celebrate the fact that although we had it hard, our mom always found a way. I could honestly say that through our everyday challenges our faith in God always got us through. He always made a way for us. So I tried hard to minimize my worrying at home and focused on my schoolwork. I made sure that I got good grades in school because I knew that my education was the key to success. So I set my standards and expectations high for myself and always pushed to accomplish more. I noticed that over the years it has been my persistence that allowed me to gain meaningful experiences. There have been times where I didn’t get into a selective program I wanted to get into, and I would refuse to give up. I was always happily surprised to get that congratulations you have been accepted into our program.

I remember in high school when I applied to a summer program called S2M2 and I didnt get in. I was sitting around with some people and expressed my disappointment. I was thinking about emailing back to ask if I could get a spot in the program, if someone dropped out last minute. One of my peers told me it wasn't a good idea because they said not to ask about application decisions. So I thought it over and decided to email after all because I reminded myself about what my grandma always told me: to not to be afraid to ask questions because the worst you can hear is no, and possibly a yes. I got a reply that I was waitlisted and would be notified if a spot became available, and a few days later it did.

So I just wanted to say: the challenges that we face in life, often shape and mold us into who we are today. My struggles at home pushed me and motivated me to do better at school and made me have that mindset to get up, and get what I wanted because who else was going to do it for me? I feel that none of my accomplishments would have been possible without God and my family.

Although I tend to complain at home about what I don't have or as my mom call it, start making a “pity party”, I like to step back sometimes to take a moment to appreciate what I do have in life and to look at what I have accomplished.

One of my favorite quotes highlight this: You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can rejoice because thorns have roses.


Thank you,

Armoni Jackson

From the BSAP Awards, Whittney Carter


As a child, I dreamt of what my future would look like. Graduating high school, going to college, and moving to California to pursue my career in medicine. For years, this was my goal. To give back by saving lives. I spent most of my time volunteering at church and around the community. I was surrounded by people who did not have goals. I came from a family where the only person I knew went to college was my father, and he did not even graduate. I just knew I wanted to be different. As I got closer to coming out of high school, I could taste my success. I was in all honors classes. I took my SAT and got a 1360! I knew I could go anywhere I wanted. My future was looking extremely bright. Then, when I was 16 years old my father went to prison. All my dreams shattered.  I did not see my father again until I was 27 years old.

In between that time, I ended up getting pregnant at 19. I was attending community college and working 2 jobs. One month after my son was born, his father was murdered. Now, I once again am on my own. I struggled to cope and survive with little to no help. I lost one of my jobs and was unable to afford daycare and it forced to drop out of school. During this time my father was calling sparingly and I never had anything good to tell him because my life was falling apart. My father would continuously apologize and say, “I never thought about how my actions and bad decisions would affect the people around me”. My father promised me he would not make the same mistake twice and when he came home, all he wanted was to redeem himself. He said he was going to give me a platform to stand on and tell my story. The next time I would talk to my father, he would be presenting an idea to me. C.O.I.N.S. Children of Inmates Needing Support. My struggles from his actions inspired him to begin a non-profit.

My father was released from prison in May 2014. In 2016, after working so many odd jobs to stay away from drugs and save money to put into the organization, my father landed a job with The Montgomery County Coalition for The Homeless. I watched my father spend days at a time in the middle of winter riding around looking for people to take off the street and give them shelter. He mentored those struggling with drugs and alcohol to keep them from going where he did.  During this time he obtained sponsorship for C.O.I.N.S from sports agents to allow the youth he worked with to experience sporting events and games. Thru C.O.I.N.S he hosted summer events to keep kids busy. Gave a safe haven for those who felt like they had nothing. Tutoring, mentoring, and educational coaching. Everything I was without while he was gone, he could provide for many others. In January 2017, my father was diagnosed

with pancreatic cancer. He passed away in August 2018.

My father’s death has been the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with, but in my pain, I have found the greatest strength. My father was my true inspiration. He was my Hero. I am here today because of the platform he created for me. I recently acquired Presidency of C.O.I.N.S. This gave me so much more motivation to find a way to make go back and complete school. In my heart, all I wanted was this degree. I allowed so much hardship to stand in my way and this time I said I am going to fight! I will not give up and I will continue to push myself until I reach success. I deserve this. I have 2 young children of my own to support and many other children waiting to receive my support. I am going to be the “no matter what happens” success story for them all. I am now attending UMUC and am completing the Business Administration program. I intend to use this degree to help me make C.O.I.N.S bigger than my father ever imagined. I have a legacy to continue. I am grateful to receive this scholarship today. This scholarship is now a part of my story and aids in me carrying out my goals. I am humbled and I am ever so ready to pay it forward.  

Always Remember, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door’.