Lee’s Gichuru Receives DMC Scholarship

Financial Aid, News, Student Success

Tehilah Gichuru, a junior human development major with an emphasis in business, has been named the recipient of the Lee University 2021-22 Darlia McLuhan Conn African Student Endowment Scholarship.

Gichuru is from Nairobi, Kenya, in East Africa. She is the president of the Lee University Africa Student Association, a member of Evangelistic Singers (EVS), part of the Student Leadership Council, and a resident assistant for the Keeble/Dirksen dorms.

“This scholarship means that I can help my parents pay for my education, but it also gives me an opportunity to live out the calling that God has upon my life and country,” said Gichuru. “My education and experiences at Lee are transformed every day thanks to the generosity of others, a principle I hope to continue once I am done with my academics and back at home in Kenya.”

The Darlia McLuhan Conn African Student Endowment Scholarship was established in 2012 to support African students attending Lee. The scholarship was the brainchild of Kelvin Tarukwasha, a Lee graduate and former director of Sodexo’s Food Services at Lee. He had a heart for fellow African students and the unusual challenges they fa ce in paying for their education.

Tarukwasha, along with African students, raised the first $5000, and Conn’s parents’ estate matched it. Sodexo continues to be an important part of the scholarship. According to Conn, no students are more deserving than these young people who are away from their families in a whole different world.

Conn came to Lee as a student from Africa, where her parents, M.G. and Merle McLuhan, were missionary educators. Conn was Director of Donor Relations when the scholarship was founded and now serves as the Music Director of Lee’s Presidential Concert Series and spouse of Lee Chancellor Paul Conn.

“I am greatly honored that this scholarship is named for me,” said Darlia Conn. “My parents would be so proud. We spent 10 years in Africa when I was a child and teenager, and as the saying goes, ‘the dust of Africa settled in my soul.’”

Gichuru received a $1,600 monetary scholarship, along with a full Sodexo meal plan valued at $1,940.

“I am grateful to Miss Darlia for taking the time to hear my story and care about me,” said Gichuru. “Sometimes as international students, we tend to feel lonely and not seen, but she goes out of her way to make me feel at home.”

Past recipients of the DMC Scholar ship include Delight Ejiaka (2020-21), Marim Tajudeen (2018-20), Oluwatigbem Ojo (2016-18), Blessing Okenye (2015-16), and Osaretin Okpefa (2014-15).

For more information about the DMC Scholarship, contact the Financial Aid Office at or call (423) 614-8300.

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