COLUMBIA, MD. , June 2, 2009 — Kendra Lee of Laurel, Md., is getting her entire college education paid for, thanks to an inspirational program at University of Phoenix - Maryland. The Paying It Forward Scholarship program involves 30 influential graduates from the University's campuses across the country identifying 30 potential students for full-tuition scholarships to help them improve their lives through education. The program was established in 2006 to celebrate the more than three decades that University of Phoenix has successfully helped working students achieve their higher education goals.

And, just like the popular 2000 movie starring Kevin Spacey and Haley Joel Osment, the idea of doing a good deed for someone who, in turn, will "pay it forward" to the next, is an idealistic concept that University of Phoenix is making into a reality through this scholarship program. The scholarship value is equivalent to nearly $50,000 (approximately $15,000 per year for a three-year degree program depending on the student's major course of study).

"The economic downturn is making it particularly difficult for many people to afford college," said Will Paul, campus director, University of Phoenix - Maryland. "This scholarship program expands access to higher education and may in some small way provide relief to those experiencing diminished investments and home equity, tightened credit, and layoffs."

"Having the opportunity to fulfill someone's dream of obtaining a college education is one way the University can give back to the individuals and communities that have embraced us so warmly," Paul added.

Kendra is a perfect example of someone who had dreams of going to college, but being a single mother and sole provider for her nine-year-old daughter, Ariana, filled the majority of her days. As a pharmacy technician at a local Howard County pharmacy, Kendra also takes extra time to help her patients, many of whom are elderly, by answering their questions and allaying their concerns. She would like to transition her interest in helping others into a position in human services or social services.

"The college degree will definitely help me achieve my goal of an eventual social services position where I can continue to give back to others in a more meaningful way," Kendra said. "By taking online courses initially, and perhaps transitioning to the Columbia campus which is near my home, I can also have more valuable time to spend with my daughter."

Kendra was nominated by her sister, Patria Lee, also of Laurel. Patria is a program analyst with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and a University of Phoenix alumna. She wanted the same opportunity for her sister that she found through the University, and knows that the degree will help Kendra accomplish her career goals just as the degree helped her succeed.

"When I was searching for a criminal justice bachelor's program, I needed a university that offered the program online since I was battling a disease called lupus at the time, and that made it very challenging for me to attend a traditional campus classroom setting," Patria said. "I watched my sister struggle with the demands of single motherhood and a full-time job to support her daughter. As any loving big sister, I wanted to find a way to help Kendra reach her academic goals, and so I submitted her name into University of Phoenix's Paying It Forward Scholarship program."

Kendra has already enrolled in the University's bachelor's degree program in human services management and hopes to complete her degree within the next few years.

University of Phoenix - Maryland offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Additional degree programs are available online, and through Axia College of University of Phoenix, a program designed for students new to the college experience. For more information, call (410) 872-9001 or visit


University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help students balance education and life in a rapidly changing world. Through flexible schedules, challenging courses and interactive learning, students achieve personal and career aspirations without putting their lives on hold. As of February 28, 2009, 397,700 students were enrolled at University of Phoenix, the largest private university in North America. University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world.