Friday, August 18, 2017

EDITORIAL >> Promise made, promise kept

Jacksonville high school students will be better prepared for college and it will be more affordable, in some cases possibly even free, thanks to the Jacksonville Promise.

The program gives Jacksonville students mentorship from UALR staff who explain the college-application process and arrange scholarships from the Wilson Family Charitable Trust.

It was unveiled last year at Jacksonville High School and Lighthouse Charter School, helping 18 students attend UALR with more expected every year as the program takes shape.

Some of the students now attending UALR because of Jacksonville Promise attended a pizza party and reception Monday at the Donaghey Student Center, where First Arkansas Bank president and chief executive Larry Wilson and his wife, Wendy, got to meet the young people they helped send to college.

UALR Chancellor Andrew Rogerson thanked the Wilsons for their support of the university and their commitment to improving Jacksonville schools. He said there has been a 146 percent increase in the number of applications to his university by Jacksonville students.

The students were bright and engaged as they explained their majors and career goals. Jacksonville and UALR are fortunate to have them. Many of them receive $1,000 scholarships every semester through the Jacksonville Promise program.

They are planning careers in medicine, business, the FBI and more.

UALR staff based at Jacksonville High School are putting students on a path to college by guiding them through the application process, coaching them about possible majors, preparing them for college-entry exams and encouraging them to keep their grades up. Most can earn college credit while still in high school.

UALR recruitment coordinator Whitney Calliotte has an office at JHS. She’s gearing up for another successful year for Jacksonville Promise.

Larry Wilson said, “It is so important that folks like you all get that opportunity and take advantage of that opportunity to get that education. You all are going to be pacesetters and pave the way for a lot of great young people coming behind you. So I want you to be successful. I want you to work hard and prove that you are worthy and can do the college work and be successful beyond that, and do something special like come back to Jacksonville and work.”

Jacksonville students can learn more about the program during a financial planning workshop Wednesday, Oct. 4 at Nixon Library.