|Date:||May 2, 2005|
|Appearance:||Skye Berger Addresses Twenty First Century Scholars|
|Outlet:||North West Indiana Times|
50 students earn scholarships
EDUCATION: Sunday’s program honored Twenty-first Century Scholars
HAMMOND | The Indiana Twenty-first Century Scholars Program on Sunday recognized students from Lake, Porter and Newton counties who have surpassed obstacles to achieve academic success and pursue their dreams.
“It’s a good program because it helps students want to achieve more, set their standards higher,” said Mary Gilliam, a junior at West Side High School in Gary. Gilliam, who has been in the program since seventh grade, said she plans to attend Butler University in Indianapolis and hopes to eventually enter medicine.
The statewide program, which provides full-tuition college scholarships to low-income Indiana students, has been in existence for a decade. It was conceived by former Gov. Evan Bayh.
Since the program’s first year, Purdue University Calumet in Hammond has hosted a recognition program every year as a way to honor students. This year’s program drew about 500 people to the university’s Alumni Hall, leaving standing room only. About 50 were graduating high school seniors who were presented with certificates of achievement and will receive scholarships for fulfilling their pledge.
Low-income students from Indiana in seventh or eighth grade may join the program by pledging to graduate from an Indiana high school, achieve a minimum 2.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, not use illegal drugs or alcohol or commit any crime, and apply for college admission and financial aid. If students fulfill their pledge, they receive a full-tuition scholarship to attend an Indiana public institution of higher learning or a scholarship of equal value to attend a private college.
Wes Lukoshus, assistant vice chancellor for advancement at Purdue Calumet, said the goal of the program is to motivate students from underprivileged environments and “demonstrate to these students that anybody can get a college education and become successful.”
Skye Holman, a scholarship recipient and guest speaker for the event, said in an interview, “The program gave me a lot of hope in realizing educational opportunities are available.”
Holman is a Purdue Calumet graduate who plans to pursue her master’s degree in social work at Loyola University in the fall. Holman told attendees to decide what they want out of life and evaluate themselves as they pursue the path to get there.
“You have to have that confidence that you will get there,” Holman said. “There is nothing to limit you — you are your only limit.”
Holman admitted the “real world” is “not that easy” and encouraged students to start networking and building relationships now, something she said schools don’t to teach.
Nellie Campos, whose daughter is a sophomore at Lake Central High School, praised the program for helping make college education affordable. Campos said her son also was in the program and is now a sophomore at Purdue University in West Lafayette.
“It’s ideal for single parents who can’t afford the education that you want them to achieve,” Campos said. “I strive for these kids, being a single parent. I want the best education they can achieve.”
One certificate of achievement recipient, Joshuah Cornell, a senior at Whiting High School, said after the program that he was “happy” and “excited” to receive the certificate. The pledge requirements, however, were not too difficult to fulfill.
“You just had to maintain a 2.0 GPA and not get in trouble pretty much,” he said.
Cornell said he plans to attend Vincennes University and hopes to be a webmaster.
Roy Hamilton, the assistant vice chancellor for educational opportunity programs at Purdue Calumet, told students they should be determined to achieve their dreams.
“In life there will be challenges,” he said. “But the issue is how you handle that problem.”