[What follows is the text of part of a letter that Dr. Janet Morrison sent to the Sowell Scholarship Selection Committee as the group decided on this semester's award recipients. I found it moving and so indicative of what chldren from low-income families face as they attempt to better their lives. We need to work harder to protect funding for students who are ready and willing to work hard on their education. LJ]
I'm a little behind on getting scholarship info out to you this semester. As
most of you know, I am now working with the Vickery Meadow Youth Development
Foundation. I am the director of their Eagle Scholars college readiness program
where 150 students are enrolled in the program. E
Each year teachers at Tasby
middle school choose 30 out-going 6th graders to be in the Eagle Scholars. We
stick with those 30 kids year after year until they graduate. This is our first
year of high school seniors.
I have been meeting with individual families and
have met with about 15 so far. It amazes me that anyone could ever claim that
poor people don't value education. I wish everyone could see the emotion as
parents and their children tear up when they talk about their biggest fear is
that they will not be able to fulfill their dreams.
When I ask why they
wouldn't be able to, it is always because of money.
Last night I watched a 7th
grader tear up over this same concern. I don't think she had ever expressed
that concern and stress to her mom. I could tell it shocked and greatly
concerned the mom that her daughter was already so concerned about their money
situation. Her mom immediately tried to console her and tell her that they
would ask friends and family for favors and would find a way to make sure she
could go to college and fulfill her dream.
I can almost guarantee you that the applicants for
the fall will be much greater in number since I now have contact with many more
seniors who will be looking for assistance. Since the Eagle Scholars stick with
the program over 5 years, they are absolutely amazing and dedicated students
with their only fault being that they are poor and can't afford college. I'm
glad we have this scholarship that I will be able to tell them about.
Another important piece of information...Nazareth [the scholarship applicant] is asking for $3,000 this
time. She is doing great at UT and has now declared Biology and pre-med as her
major. She has switched a couple of times from Education to Engineering to
(now) Biology. Her dad has requested that this be her last declaration.
Nazareth, I know she is determined and responsible. She has looked into the
program to make sure she can still graduate on time (which she will). She said
the students received a letter from UT stating that due to government cuts the
amount of financial aid they are able to receive has been cut. She was very
concerned about this. She has the maximum amount of Stafford loans but does not
want to take out Parent Plus loans because she does not want to burden her
parents with the potential debt if she cannot get a job in this economy.
Instead, she has been working relentlessly with the UT Financial Aid department
to find as many other grants as possible. Because of her hard work and
recommend that she receives the complete $3,000...but I am open to any
suggestions from the committee.
Thanks so much for being a part of this important act of helping kids fulfill