SJC Launches New Talbot Scholars Program for Underrepresented Students
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine today announced the creation of a new scholarship program named after Maine civil rights leader Gerald E. Talbot, H ‘21. The Talbot Scholars program will provide access, support, and success to students from historically underserved communities.
A reflection of the College’s commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, the program is designed to prepare future leaders in the work of building sustainable communities – in Maine, across the country, and around the world.
Launching the program, Saint Joseph’s College President Jim Dlugos said: “We are excited to honor and expand Gerald Talbot’s incredible legacy of justice, right here at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine. This program will not only open doors to learning that have historically been out of reach, but will create new leaders with the skills and spirit to advance what our world sorely needs – community.”
The program will focus on outreach to underserved communities with college-readiness programming provided not only to students, but also to their families and other influencers.
Special, no-loan financial aid opportunities will be offered to qualified students.
Once on campus, Talbot Scholars will be supported by bridge programming designed to facilitate the transition from high school or work to the College. Experienced academic counselors and advisors will help navigate the challenges and opportunities typically encountered by first-generation and underrepresented college students.
The program’s goals include a higher graduation rate for Talbot Scholars than their peers across American higher education, as well as a job in a field of their choice (or graduate or professional school) within six months of graduation. These and other key goals will be Mentoring and leadership programs that provide career and life coaching from qualified community members and employer partners will support these goals.
Born in Bangor as an eighth generation Mainer, Gerald Talbot has spent his storied career standing up for voting rights, safe and affordable housing, education, the equal treatment for LGBTQ+ community, the rights of migrant workers, the sovereignty of indigenous people, and for the adoption of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday in Maine. One of the only Mainers to join Martin Luther King, Jr at the 1963 March on Washington, he then served as the first president of the Portland Chapter of the NAACP. Talbot was the first person of color to serve in Maine’s House of Representatives, as a Legislative Committee chair, and as Speaker pro tem.
In 1995, he donated a vast body of photographs, papers, and material objects to the University of Southern Maine as a permanent way to teach, and make accessible, African American history. The Gerald E. Talbot Collection serves as the foundation of the African American Collection of Maine. His donation inspired the creation of the Maine Collection and the Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity. In 2006, along with co-author H. H. Price, Talbot published Maine’s Visible Black History: The First Chronicle of Its People. In 2020, the Portland City Council unanimously voted to change the name of the Riverton Elementary School to the Gerald E. Talbot Community School, in his honor.
In recognition of the importance and impact of the life’s work of Gerald Talbot, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine granted him an honorary doctorate of public service degree in May of 2021.