The Dereef College Scholarship Program Pays It Forward

  • Posted 5/9/2024

    Dereef Award


    Marvin Dereef

    Marvin Dereef
    FCS Chief Financial Officer

    In June 2023, Fulton County Schools (FCS) Chief Financial Officer Marvin Dereef Jr. was awarded the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) International Eagle Award for his outstanding leadership contributions in the field of education for more than 18 years. The ASBO award, sponsored by Equitable, included funds he could apply to a "Dereef College Scholarship" program benefitting FCS students.

    Mr. Dereef remembers receiving his first scholarship from the Optimist Club in Fort Mill, South Carolina when he was a high school senior. It was a $500 book scholarship. He did not have the remaining funds needed to complete enrollment at Clark Atlanta University. The Optimist Club made an adjustment to the type of scholarship that allowed Mr. Dereef to cross the threshold into education.

    Mr. Dereef, a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and his wife, a graduate of Tulane University have dedicated their lives to education in the Fulton County Schools system.

    "Education has meant a lot to me," Dereef said. "It was home. It really changed my life. Now, I want to give back. Clark Atlanta University taught me to 'find a way or make a way,' which includes making a way for others. The Dereef College Scholarship will serve as an achievement and support for five Fulton County Schools students."

    Through an application process, each of five FCS students have been chosen to receive a $1,000 scholarship toward their education at Clark Atlanta University, Tulane University, or another college of their choice. Mr. Dereef is proud to announce the Dereef College Scholarship recipients in their own words, supported by those who know them well:


    Zaniyah Jones

    Zaniyah Jones - Westlake High School

    "I will be going to college to earn a degree in Sports Administration and Business. My dream is to also own and launch a sports clothing line." - Scholarship recipient Zaniyah Jones

    "Her impeccable character, strong family support, and commitment to community service demonstrates the kind of individual who not only excels in her personal life but also positively impacts the lives of those around her." - Westlake High School Principal Jarvis Adams


    Nelson Pinnock

    Nelson Pinnock - Centennial High School

    "I have a deep-rooted passion for economics. I believe that I can help many people achieve financial freedom and understanding with proper education and teaching. With this scholarship I can continue to positively represent all the values for which Fulton County stands." - Scholarship recipient Nelson Pinnock

    "His drive and passion for learning are top tier and to be envied. No matter where he lands (college or otherwise), I know he will make an impact." - Centennial High School English teacher Shaun Manny


    Gabrielle Dyer-Palmer

    Gabrielle Dyer-Palmer - Cambridge High School

    "Since freshman year, I have fostered an interest in business. I have taken both business pathways in the Career Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) system offered at my school. I have gained a solid introduction to and love for the business world. I completed the Entrepreneurship End-of-Pathway exam successfully at the end of my junior year and I am now working toward completing the Accounting Pathway." - Scholarship recipient Gabrielle Dyer-Palmer

    "She is exceptionally skilled in handling complex numerical and analytical tasks, making her a promising candidate for a career in finance." - Cambridge High School Principal Ashley Agans


    Carmen Yadi

    Carmen Yadi - Westlake High School

    "Looking towards the future, I have set my sights on pursuing a degree in Business (Finance). I am captivated by the idea of using my problem-solving skills to help others and positively impact society. With an unwavering commitment to making a difference, I strive to contribute to the development of a sustainable society." - Scholarship recipient Carmen Yadi

    "Carmen is highly motivated and her apparent enthusiasm and interest in education is supported by her diligent work. She has shown an extraordinary sense of perception of the subjects and has made a difference to the class with her insightful remarks." - Westlake High School Language Arts teacher Tyrus Brackett



    Jha'kya Bi Heidi Pickett - Westlake High School

    "A business degree can provide you with essential skills like critical thinking, managing finances, and solving problems, which are valuable in many career paths. This field offers opportunities for personal and professional growth, job security, and the chance to contribute meaningfully to society." - Scholarship recipient Jha'kya Bi Heidi Pickett

    "Jha'kya approaches each day as an opportunity to progress towards greatness, eagerly embracing every learning challenge that comes her way.” - Westlake High School Mathematics teacher Tonya Ward