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Freshman named Jackie Robinson scholar

April 22, 1997


By Kevin Allen

Lariat Sports Reporter

'A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.'

These words, forever etched on the tombstone of Jackie Robinson, serve to many as a reminder of what true courage should be. When Robinson broke the color barrier of Major League Baseball in 1947, the impact reached far beyond the playing field. One particular University student is well aware of this impact.

Gabrielle Tyler, a Pollok freshman, became the first University student to be selected as a Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF) Scholar. This program was founded in 1973 by Robinson's wife, Rachel. Its purpose is to provide educational opportunities for minorities with strong capabilities and limited financial resources. Tyler soon learned it would provide much more than this.

Only 33 students across the nation were chosen as JRF Scholars this year, bringing the number of total undergraduate scholars to 147. Most of the scholars attend universities in the east, including New York University, Princeton, Yale and Harvard. According to Tyler, only four JRF Scholars currently attend schools in Texas.

'When I applied for the scholarship, I had no idea it would be this big,' she said.

The scholarship includes a $5,000 annual award for four years as well as a mentoring program for the scholars. In this program, corporate sponsors, JRF alumni and others in the professional world help the students find internships and job opportunities while they attend school and after they graduate. Each year, scholars attend the Networking Weekend in New York City to meet professionals in their job fields and make connections for the future.

'The exposure she is getting from the program is equipping her for her future,' said Irene Tyler, Gabrielle's mother.

Tyler attended the annual Networking Weekend and Awards Banquet over spring break this year. Among the celebrities on hand to honor the award winners were Bill Cosby, Jesse Jackson, David Robinson and Spike Lee. There she met other members of the JRF family, including her sponsors at the Dr Pepper/Cadbury Corporation, with whom she communicates on a regular basis.

Tyler has always worked hard to achieve her goals, her mother said. She decided at an early age that she wanted to attend the University, and worked hard to get here.

Tyler is currently involved in Baylor Women's League and Young Democrats and has set many goals for the future, keeping in mind the principles set by Jackie Robinson, Tyler said.

'We [JRF Scholars] all try to break barriers wherever we go,' Tyler said. 'That is Jackie Robinson's theme.'

The international business/marketing major hopes to break into the business world as a international retail buyer upon graduation. Until then, Tyler hopes to find more leadership opportunities on campus.

'I would like to be a role model for other students,' Tyler said. 'I encourage everyone to strive for their goals, to have morals and to stick to them.'

Tyler's mother said, 'I admire her, and I am very proud of her.'

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