photo: Tony Lee
By Jeff Uveino
ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — St. Bonaventure University’s Jandoli School of Communication will award a new student scholarship beginning in 2021, with the creation of the George Floyd Memorial/The Intrepid Scholarship.
Tony Lee, a 2013 Bona’s graduate and founder of The Intrepid, established the scholarship in response to Floyd’s death on May 25, and the movement that has resulted from it.
“The date itself has a lasting impact on me,” Lee said. “I wanted to have a lasting impact and make this not just a moment in time that we remember in history, but have a profound impact.”
The scholarship will be awarded based on academic merit and financial need, and will be received by a Jandoli student who is Black, indigenous or a person of color (BIPOC).
“I wanted to empower and provide effort to the next generation of journalists,” Lee said. “There is such an important need for communicators. People who can do it in an articulate and unbiased way, and also be able to report facts without any fear of retaliation or public outcry.”
Lee, who works at STARZ as its paid director of social, recalled some of the classes that he took during his time at SBU, and how the Jandoli school not only prepared him for a career in media, but shaped the way that he viewed the field.
“One of the most important things I learned at SBU is that you don’t need to have an established platform, you already have one on your phone,” Lee said. “Whatever type of message you want to share, don’t let fear stop you from doing that.”
Of the $5,250 donated (as a tribute to the day Floyd died), half will be awarded during the 2020-21 academic year in the form of an annual scholarship, and half will be awarded as an endowed scholarship that the school plans to give each year moving forward.
Aaron Chimbel, dean of the Jandoli school, said he was grateful for Lee’s desire to make an impact. He also stressed the importance of diversity among communicators.
“(Lee) reached out and said that this is something he could do that could really bring positive change for people, particularly those from underrepresented groups,” Chimbel said. “One of the challenges of systemic racism is educational opportunities. I think it’s really important that newsrooms and communication companies have a diverse pool of candidates to choose from, and a diverse workforce so that they can be inclusive of different viewpoints.”
Chimbel stressed the importance of being able to help students afford the cost of higher education, which is a concern for many. This scholarship, he said, is just the latest example of Jandoli alumni giving back to their alma mater.
“One of the things that distinguishes the Jandoli school is how passionate people are about it,” Chimbel said. “Some people have the financial means to give money, while others are able to mentor students and come to campus to speak. It’s really inspiring to me to see how much our alumni care about the school and want to give back, and also because a lot of them had the same done for them.”
Lee said that he was proud that he could contact SBU and quickly make the scholarship happen, and hopes that he can help a new generation of journalists get their voices heard.
“Now is time more than ever to tell incredible stories with incredible details and historical significance,” Lee said. “I want the candidate to know that their voice not only can be heard, but should be heard.”