Over 100 Sault Area High School seniors have been awarded scholarships through the MI GEAR UP program and Lake Superior State University, something organizers hope will help pave the soon-to-be graduates’ way to a post-secondary education.
MI GEAR UP, an acronym for Michigan Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a joint venture involving funds from the U.S. Department of Education and the King-Chavez-Parks Initiative. LSSU also put up some funding and began administering its branch of the program when SAHS’ current seniors were in seventh grade. During each year since then, they have been taught lessons regarding their post-secondary education options and how to prepare for them.
During an assembly Tuesday afternoon, LSSU Director of Education Enrichment and Access Shelly Wooley read the names of 110 SAHS seniors who will receive at least $3,000 in scholarship money through MI GEAR UP. Most of them will have access to $1,000 annually during three of the next four years. Five others will be granted access to a savings account that holds $3,050 which they can use at any time.
SAHS Principal Carl McCready told the students that Wooley and SAHS counselor Susy Talentino deserve a lot of credit for bringing all of the scholarships to the school. He praised the students as well.
“It’s a huge tribute to you and the hard work you put into your high school education,” McCready said.
Wooley noted that she was originally only supposed to award 14 scholarships. But last week, she was contacted by representatives of the Michigan Department of the Treasury’s Office of Student Scholarships, who told her they had a lot of extra funding available because other universities had not used their allotment. Wooley gladly pledged to put that money to good use.
She ended up handing out the 110 scholarships at SAHS — which covers about two-thirds of graduating seniors — plus an additional 21 scholarships to students in the other high schools she has worked with, including Malcolm, Pickford, Whitefish, and Ojibwe Charter School.
Wooley said for a school to be eligible for MI GEAR UP, more than 50 percent of its students must qualify for the federal Free and Reduced Lunch program. That, she noted, can be an indicator of homes in which no one has an education beyond high school.
“Some of our students are coming from homes where their caregivers do not have a post-secondary education, and so sometimes (the students) are not familiar with the route to get there,” Wooley said. “So this is to close that gap.”
Source: The Sault News