ECIER Foundation and the City of Gary partnered to engage in awarding scholarships to the City of Gary Scholars. Twenty six (26) winners were Gary high school graduates that have been accepted for admission at an accredited two year or four year college or technical school. The City of Gary Scholars were members of ECIER Foundation’s program, designed to encourage students to reach their full scholastic potential by providing educational incentives and a structured program for obtaining positive reinforcement. ECIER Foundation and the City of Gary believe that empowering today’s youth with a good education is essential.
Majestic Star Casino provided the donation from its new initiative “Majestic Cares,” under the umbrella of “Majestic Stars of Tomorrow” earmarked for Gary high school students. The Gary Advisory Council selected the pool of candidates eligible to receive scholarships. Purdue University Northwest, Indiana University Northwest and IVY Tech Community College partnered with ECIER Foundation and the City of Gary to provide additional scholarships. Main Sporting Goods, Top of the World and IVY Tech Community College provided college caps for the graduates during the inaugural ceremony.
“I’m delighted of the partnership” and providing our youth an opportunity to expand their horizons, said Chareice White, Founder and Chairman of the Board of ECIER Foundation.
“What this scholarship means to me, in all honesty, everything really hasn’t clicked in yet” said Joshua Phillips, graduate of Thea Bowman Leadership Academy and a recipient of a $20,000 scholarship, who is attending Purdue University Northwest. “I feel as if I hit the jackpot on a game show, I thank the Lord for blessing me with this scholarship. This scholarship causes me to be highly thankful and I want to thank my former principal, Dr. Richard Glass, all of the Thea Bowman administration and the current principal Mr. Lamont Holifield for helping me. I also want to thank Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and the City of Gary. The Mayor once told me that ‘it all starts with an idea.’ Also special thanks to Ms. Chareice White and the board of Directors for being supportive individuals, thanks to my father, Shawn Phillips, and my little brother Jaydon Phillips. I lost my mother at the age of 14 and it impacted me greatly. This scholarship gives me the consolation that I am yet making her proud. Her last words to me were ‘hang in there’ and I am truly doing that. To any other student who may be going through adversity, don’t let your situation hold you down. Learn to let your situation be a stepping stone and press even more.”
“It means everything to me” said Kia Jackson, attending Jackson State University, and who received a $3,000 scholarship. “Knowing the sky is NOT the limit I can go as high as I want to go if I never give up and not listen to the people that underestimate me.”
“The partnership between the City of Gary, ECIER Foundation and Majestic Star Casino has made a difference in the Gary community by offering Gary residents that are graduating high school seniors from Gary Schools scholarship opportunities,” said Diana Sandlin, Gary Scholars Program Advisory Council Chair.
“The City of Gary Scholars Scholarship ceremony was fantastic, it was a great opportunity for the City of Gary but an even better opportunity for the 26 students who received scholarships. The scholarships will provide students the opportunity to pursue their dreams, get an education and even conquer their goals without the stress of worrying about how they will pay for it. I have a great amount of joy knowing, I was a part of the team that made this happen,” said Stephan T. Piggee II, Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions for Purdue University Northwest.
“It was a wonderful ceremony, just seeing the happiness in the student’s faces and the look of pride from their family and friends made all the hard work of developing the scholarship program worthwhile. The future of Gary and the Region is limitless with young people like these leading the way,” said Tyrone Spann, Associate Director of Admissions, IVY Tech Community College and ECIER Foundation Board of Director.
“I was overwhelmed with joy and a sense of amazement, as I witnessed 26, bright, talented, inspiring young men and women receive scholarship money tonight! To see the smiles on their faces and hear them say, ‘I just can’t stop smiling’ made me proud to be just one of the many amazing people who believed in them and got the opportunity to touch their lives as they begin their next chapter,” said Angela Graczak, ECIER Foundation Board of Director.
It was a pleasure and an honor to be part of the inaugural City of Gary Scholars Awards Ceremony. All 26 Gary Students and parents were very humbled and thankful for the funding received, said Renee Connelly, ECIER Board of Director.
“Today the City of Gary made an investment in its future by awarding scholarships to these awesome deserving students. It is my hope that when they attain their college degrees and pursue their professional careers, they will come back or at least reach back to the City of Gary and help build it up,” said Sharifa Townsend, ECIER Board of Director.
“Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life; it’s about what you inspire others to do” (unknown). This is why ECIER Foundation exists. It’s incredible to see so many of our youth start the year timid and frightened, to becoming confident and positive young men and women. This is exactly what I witnessed during the awards ceremony. All of the students exude a confidence that they are ready for college and beyond. Majestic Star Casino, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and the ECIER Foundation, are proud of what was accomplished through this program, said Dushan Nikolovski, Clinical Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship of Purdue University Northwest and ECIER Board of Director.
“All of the hard work by the committee came to fruition with the excitement of the students beaming with pride as they accepted their monetary awards as the first group of Gary Scholars. In many cases the student’s excitement was second to that of their parents. This was the first year for the project which promises to grow in the future,” said Larry Alt, ECIER Board of Director.
“Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and the City of Gary provided the graduates of Gary a tremendous opportunity for the youth to further their education and to make a positive impact on the youth in our communities,” said Johnnie Mae, ECIER Board of Director.