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Senior Josiah Anderson named Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation semifinalist


Senior Josiah Anderson named Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation semifinalist
Andrew Chiappazzi

Woodland Hills High School senior Josiah Anderson has been named a Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation semifinalist, making him one of 1,500 students nationwide in the running for one of the program's $20,000 college scholarships. Read more about Josiah and what the scholarship would mean to him.


Josiah Anderson was exploring college scholarship options with career coach Ms. Joanne Krett in the College and Career Center at Woodland Hills High School when he spotted one sponsored by Coca-Cola. He filled out the application and, in early November, he learned he had been selected as a semifinalist for the 2023 Class of the Coca-Cola Scholars Program.

He was happy, but he didn’t realize the significance at the time. It was the excitement from Ms. Krett and from Principal Shelly Manns that made him realize how large of a hurdle he had just cleared. A pool of over 91,000 applicants had submitted their applications for the scholarship. Josiah was now one of just over 1,500 being considered for one of 150 $20,000 scholarships.

“It’s very exciting to know that out of all those people, I was chosen to be a semifinalist,” he said. “Now that I made it this far, I want to keep going farther. And, honestly, with a scholarship like that, it could help me in college a lot.”

The next round of the application includes his transcript, a letter of recommendation, and essays. A committee will review the applications and select 250 regional finalists, who will then undergo interviews to determine which 150 applicants will become Coke Scholars. The winners will not only receive the $20,000 scholarship, but they’ll be invited to attend Coca-Cola Scholars Weekend in Atlanta in April.

Josiah said the initial application featured an essay, and the second round features additional writing. The essays fit right into his passion for creative writing.

“I love writing. I want to go to college to be a script writer,” he said. “What I’m going to have to learn to do, though, is fit all of my words into a 300 word essay. So that might be a challenge, but I’m a creative writer, so I’m OK with that.”

Part of the application also featured information about his impact in the community. Josiah has been a volunteer with the Pittsburgh NFL League, an official flag football league through the NFL, and is active in the First Baptist Church of West Mifflin, where he works with younger members of the congregation.

“I was always helping the kids learn songs, dances; we’ve even done plays sometimes,” he said.

Josiah works after school, but every Thursday he heads to the Carnegie Museum of Art for its Youth Artist Studio.

“It’s like an after-school art institution for young artists,” Anderson said. “We learn about different art forms, learn about art history, work on different art techniques. At the end of every year, we have a big gala where we take our projects and display them in the museum for everyone else to see.”

He liked working with clay and sculpting, but he also liked drawing. It’s a connection that clicks into place when he explains his biggest writing inspiration is comic book legend Stan Lee, the creator of Marvel Comics.

“I just love how he started from the bottom and worked his way up to the top. He was a phenomenal writer,” he said. “Most people don’t know that he wrote most of his own characters and Black Panther was one of his first.”

Josiah is exploring his college opportunities. Financial aid will play a big role in his choice, which makes scholarship opportunities like the one offered through Coca-Cola all the more significant.

“I really don't want to spend my rest of my life paying student loans back, so whichever one can give me the most money and will have my career path, that’s the one,” he said. “I really appreciate being picked as a semifinalist. That’s a really big thing for me.”

Josiah Anderson, a high school student at Woodland Hills, poses for a photo in a brightly lit hallway. He is wearing a red jacket.