This year, 48 Davis UWC Scholars are enrolled at CC, including 10 first-year students. The UWC experience brings students from around the world to live and learn together in one of 15 locations on five continents for their last two years of high school.

Davis UWC Scholars at CC previously have studied in Hong Kong, India, Costa Rica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wales, Singapore, Italy, Canada, Switzerland, and the U.S. Once UWC graduates enroll in one of the program’s partner U.S. colleges or universities, the Davis UWC program provides financial support for their undergraduate educations through institutional grants that support need-based scholarships.

Shelby M.C. Davis and Phil Geier cofounded the Davis UWC Scholars Program. Davis funds the program, a commitment involving tens of millions of dollars per year and supporting more than 2,500 scholars at 91 colleges and universities throughout the U.S. Geier serves as the program’s executive director.

At 16, Onyx Bengston ’18, had known more than her share of hardship. Her mother abandoned her at 2; then her caretaker died when she was 4. Her maternal grandparents took her in, but it was a relationship Onyx characterizes as abusive. She’s been on her own since age 14. The letter inviting her to apply for the Davis Scholars program came to a friend’s house, where she’d been staying. Frankly, it seemed too good to be true. She investigated the program online, then for two months, worked on her application. When the time came, she had to borrow a car to drive from Colorado Springs to New Mexico for the daylong Davis interview. Even after she was accepted to her Davis school, the UWC Red Cross Nordic in Norway, it seemed unreal until her second semester.

“The UWC community is so tight that I know when I go to my 10th reunion I’ll still feel like these people are my family,” Onyx says. “UWC creates people who are bound to the world because they know people all over the world. It fosters tolerance and understanding.”

At CC, she is majoring in anthropology and minoring in Japanese language and museum studies. With no family to assist her, the financial aid package was crucial, and she was able to get support in the form of scholarships. Besides the Davis UWC Scholarship, she receives a music scholarship and the Stephanie and Ed Benton Endowed Scholarship.

Financial support allows her to study at CC, and music enhances her well-being. CC furnishes her with very affordable lessons.

“I started with the violin in the first grade, and I’ve played music all my life except for three years. Those were the worst three years of my life,” she says.

In her remaining time at CC, she hopes to establish an organization that pairs children who can’t afford to play music with donated instruments and teachers who volunteer their time. She’s also working part-time for the Summer Music Festival, and she’s part of QuestBridge and the Bridge Scholars Program.

Looking back, she sees the Davis UWC Scholarship as a pivotal event in her life.

“Everything that happened from there probably has affected everything that will happen,” she says.

Colorado College celebrated its prestigious Davis United World College Scholars Sept. 1 at a dinner in historic Bemis Hall.