Josiah Hickman

Josiah Hickman

Lafayette High sophomore earns college credits

Josiah Hickman, a 15-year-old sophomore at Lafayette High School in Wildwood and an aspiring aerospace engineer, recently received a Frontline Workers Scholarship, worth $400.

Created by the University of Pittsburgh and Outlier.org, a company that offers for-credit university-level online courses for a fraction of the cost, the scholarship supports frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic who have an interest in continuing their education.

Josiah stumbled on the scholarship, which also lets him earn college credit, while searching the internet for information about machine learning, the study of computer algorithms and control theory, a model of engineered processes and machines.

Once he found Outlier, he applied, with a view toward enrolling in a virtual calculus class that earned college credit and brought him a little step closer to his goal of getting a degree in aerospace engineering.  

“The course was actually really fun,” Josiah said. “I’m the type of person who loves learning. “It was a great experience.”

Each recipient receives a free, for-credit online college course equivalent. The university will grant three transferable credits to students who successfully complete an Outlier course.

“We launched the scholarship program in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh to award 1,000 frontline workers with an Outlier course of their choice at no cost,” Kira Tangney, senior manager of business development at Outlier.

“This is the first, we hope, of many scholarships.”

Outlier defines frontline, or essential workers as those in the healthcare field, grocery workers, restaurant workers and a range of support staff positions. Each applicant must list an occupation, answer three multiple-choice questions, and make a 60-second video explaining why he or she deserves the scholarship.

Despite Josiah’s age, Tangney felt it was imperative for him to have access to the scholarship, which will help prepare him for college.

“Part of our mission is to help students enter into the traditional educational system and hopefully take those prerequisite courses early on,” Tangney said. “So now, Josiah, when he enters college, can take higher level courses specific to his degree requirements.”

At the end of each school day, Josiah heads to work at the Ellisville Chick-fil-A, his first job. He decided to work there because he likes the food and customer service. So far, he’s proven to be a good fit.

“He’s a great worker,” Logan Martin, shift manager said. ”He’s a very fast learner. He sticks out because he’s different from the rest around his age typically. He shows up and works hard.”

Josiah’s parents, Michelle Parker and Philip Hickman, are extremely proud of their son for his strong work ethic and passion for the STEM curriculum.

“We’re proud of Josiah and know he’s gonna take over the world some day,” Hickman said.      

After high school graduation, Josiah would like to enter the aerospace programs at the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“I think it would be great to work with people who are like-minded, that have a genuine love for aerospace and have been building things their whole life.” Josiah said.

Scholarship recipients are able to use their scholarships up until 2022. More information about Outlier and the Frontline Workers Scholarship, is available at: https://www.outlier.org/pages/frontline-workers-scholarship.

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