By the Gary 411
Partnership with ECIER Foundation builds opportunities for first year college students
First year college students were given lots of advice and more importantly, tuition money at the City of Gary Scholars Scholarship Awards Ceremony held Monday night at the ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen.
Fourteen Gary high school seniors went home with $40,000 in scholarship monies between them.
Now in its second year, the City of Gary Scholars Program seeks college bound high school graduates with an interest in public service, a stipulation made by Gary’s Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. Recipients must have a 2.5 grade point average and have been accepted in a 2 or 4-year college degree program. They are also evaluated on how they complete a set of incentives designed by the ECIER Foundation, the city’s partner administering the program.
Giving the seniors some advice was Anita Flowers, a May 2019 Columbia College of Chicago grad and an ECIER scholar.
Flowers said graduating from college was the most challenging obstacle she has faced so far. “So evaluate your goals before going on your college journey. In times of distress, reminding myself why I wanted to go to college was what gave me the desire to continue.” Take your worst subjects first, Flowers told the new college students, get them out of the way so you won’t have to struggle your junior and senior years.
“College requirements for graduation are constantly changing, so visit your advisers at least once every semester,” Flowers said. “Attend all your classes. Eat right and get plenty of rest.”
Mayor Freeman-Wilson asked the seniors to work and play hard, to get a well-rounded college experience. “But when you go to Indianapolis, Chicago and all those other places for your studies, we hope that you won’t forget folks back home.
We are counting on some of you to return and add to the knowledge and the wealth of information energy that will help in rebuilding our city.”
The ECIER Foundation has structured a one-year program that involves high school students in workshops conducted by area businesses and public agencies. They perform community service projects, learn leadership and communication skills, and learn how to become entrepreneurs.
Some students, like Flowers, join the program for two years while in high school. Ryan Brown, now a Purdue Northwest sophomore started a clothing manufacturing business with classmates at Purdue.
The major donor of scholarship funds is Majestic Star Casinos, now Spectacle Entertainment. Students attending Purdue and Ivy Tech will receive additional assistance from those schools.
Diana Sandlin leads the Gary Scholars Advisory Council. “This year we will give an additional $40,000 in scholarships to students returning to college,”
Sandlin said. Notice of the availability of those scholarships will be announced in September.