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Family Establishes Penn State Scholarship In Memory Of Osaze Osagie

The family of a State College man who was shot and killed by borough police in March has established a scholarship in his name at Penn State to assist students dealing with mental health issues, the university announced on Wednesday. 

The Osaze Osagie Memorial Scholarship for Educational Equity is being created by the Osagie family to provide financial support for students “with intellectual and mental health diagnoses so they can have quality-of-life experiences while at the university, including up-to-date support academically, emotionally and socially.”

The scholarship will be housed in the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity. Osaze Osagie’s father, Sylvester, is director of Water-Energy-Food Systems and Faculty Fulbright Program adviser for Penn State Global Programs. His mother, Iyunolu, is an emeritus professor of English at Penn State and a professor of English at Oregon State University.

Osaze Osagie, 29, was a graduate of State College Area High School and attended Penn State for two years. During that time, his family previously said, he was diagnosed with autism and withdrew because of mental health challenges.

“Osaze was a man of peace. Despite his health challenges, he deeply cared for others and wanted the best for them. His love was unconditional under all circumstances,” the Osagies said in a statement. “He also loved Penn State and was an avid Penn State football fan. Given the experiences of Osaze’s life and the circumstances surrounding his death, we are very much interested in a scholarship fund that symbolizes peace, reconciliation and the need to care for the vulnerable in our society.”

Osagie died of multiple gunshot wounds on March 20  after being shot by a State College officer during a confrontation at Osagie’s apartment on Old Boalsburg Road, where police had arrived to serve him with a mental health warrant.

His father told police on March 19 that he was concerned about Osaze’s recent erratic behavior. Osagie family attorney Kathleen Yurchak said that Sylvester Osagie was working with police to find his son and expected he would receive a phone call if they located him. Yurchak said that he was not called when police found Osaze had returned to his apartment.

Osaze allegedly confronted officers with a knife and ignored commands to drop it. When he “came after” police, an officer fatally shot him, according to a Pennsylvania State Police search warrant. A stun gun was among the items found at the scene, which a state police official reportedly said an officer attempted to use but was ineffective.

State police are conducting the outside investigation, which Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna vowed would be “thorough and complete.” The State College officers involved have been placed on administrative leave, per department policy, pending the outcome of the investigation.

Penn State President Eric Barron, meanwhile, said that while the Osagies and the community grieve and search for answers, he is grateful that they have chosen to honor his life by helping others.

“While our grief does not compare to the sense of sadness the Osagie family is bearing right now, the entire community has been shaken by this tragic loss of a member of our Penn State family,” said President Eric Barron. “We know that there is great sorrow and many questions in our community regarding Osaze’s untimely passing. We are grateful to the Osagie family for choosing to celebrate the life of their son and brother in a way that will have a lasting impact on Penn State and our future students.”

The family also hopes that in the future there will be additional funding opportunities for university training programs for law enforcement interacting with individuals experiencing mental health crises.

“All of us at Penn State are grieving this tragic loss of a young life, and we share our deepest sympathies with Sylvester and Iyunolu and their children, longstanding members of our Penn State family who are dealing with a profound and personal heartbreak,” said Marcus Whitehurst, vice provost for educational equity. “Even during this extremely difficult time, they are focusing on finding a way to honor the memory of Osaze by providing support to Penn State students in his name.”

Contributions to the Osaze Osagie Memorial Scholarship can be made at raise.psu.edu/OsazeOsagieMemorialScholarship or by mail to Contributions can also be made by mail to University Development, 2601 Gateway Drive, Suite 150, State College, PA 16801.

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About the Author

Geoff Rushton (StateCollege.com)

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.

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