The latest state projections suggest Michigan’s cannabis market will generate nearly $1 billion in annual revenue by the end of the fiscal year — including $100 million in tax revenues for public schools. But apparently that just wasn’t enough for Homegrown Cannabis Co. in Lansing.
Owner Tom James announced this week that his company has awarded a full-ride scholarship to Ridwan Sheikh-Omar, a 17-year-old senior at Everett High School in Lansing, to attend Michigan State University in the fall. The scholarship contest was announced last September.
And with four years of all college expenses paid, the award is valued at more than $200,000.
“We wanted to be able to award at least one scholarship to a Black student in Lansing, which was mainly in response to the Black Lives Matter movement,” James said. “We thought the biggest impact we could have would be to invest in the education of our African American community right here in Lansing, especially for someone that wants to make a social change.”
Sheikh-Omar described herself as a proud young Somalian and African American woman who primarily desires to help her community. In this case, she plans to give back to local residents with a major in biomedical science and plans to specialize in pediatric medicine. It’s a field that captured her interest after frequenting the hospital as a child for her own treatment, she said.
“My main priority is to always give back,” Sheikh-Omar explained. “As of right now, all I have to give back is knowledge. I am a teen tutor so I guide the upcoming youth into the right path.”
Sheikh-Omar said that without the scholarship, she wouldn’t have been able to cover the costs. She described the full coverage of books, tuition, housing and meals as “honestly amazing.”
“This scholarship would mean that I would be one step closer to the future that is so close to my heart,” she wrote in a letter attached to her scholarship application. “This scholarship means that I can, and will, make a difference as a pediatrician fighting for social justice in healthcare.”
About 40 people applied for the scholarship after it was announced, James said. Applicants were required to maintain a 2.75 GPA and study something that would “impact social justice or social change.” Sheikh-Omar is both the valedictorian and vice president of the class of 2021.
James said he considered making the scholarship focused on the cannabis industry, considering that data shows that only 3.8% of Michigan retailers are owned by Black people. Ultimately, he decided to pick the only applicant that “really knocked our socks off,” he said.
“One way I plan to improve my community’s quality of life is to fight the social inequalities in health care,” Sheik-Omar said. “I plan to become a pediatrician specialist, so I can open up a practice where families of all walks of life can come with no fear, no worries, and most importantly, no regrets. No human beings should avoid a hospital because of medical bills.”
Kyle Kaminski is a City Pulse staff writer and cannabis enthusiast who has been smoking marijuana just about every day for the last decade. Almost weekly, Kaminski samples some of the best cannabis products available in Greater Lansing, gets real high and writes about them.