Rusk TJC Citizens Promise Scholars honored May 8
A promise made to the students of Rusk ISD by Tyler Junior College, Citizens’ 1st Bank, Rusk and Cherokee County was recognized May 8 as the third class of Rusk High School graduates to attend TJC on the Rusk TJC Citizens Promise Scholarship were honored during a ceremony at TJC’s Jean Browne Theatre.
A total of 16 students were recognized, including six students who graduated during TJC’s commencement ceremonies Friday and Saturday or previously.
Graduating students that were recognized were:
· Amy Collins, who received her business degree;
· Christian Coutee, who received her general studies degree and graduated magna cum laude;
· Estella Lopez, who received her social work degree;
· Brandon McClure, who received his engineering degree and graduated magna cum laude;
· Brylee Teichman, who received her pre-nursing degree and graduated magna cum laude and;
· Cassie Weiss, who received her geology degree and graduated magna cum laude.
Students recognized still pursuing their degree were:
· Jim Colby, majoring in automotive technology;
· Jazzimine Crist, majoring in music;
· Cassi Fletcher, majoring in general studies;
· Hayden Helm, majoring in general studies;
· Chad Jeffrey, majoring in air conditioning/refrigeration;
· Sommer May, majoring in education;
· Mark Mitchell, majoring in general studies;
· Esmerelda Perez, majoring in pre-dental hygiene;
· Waylon Turner, majoring in gaming and simulation development graphics and;
· Evelin Velasco, majoring in pre-nursing.
“This outstanding group of students is the reason why we’re here,” said Megan Cumbee, Promise Program coordinator and a Rusk High School alum. “We’re excited to celebrate these students and their accomplishments.”
“You have to have a dream to make a dream come true, and reality has a way of rearranging toward your hopes and expectations,” said TJC president Dr. Mike Metke. “When a dream is shared, it becomes a reality. You’re part of that dream and you’re all going to do such great things. We’re honored to be a part of your lives.”
The Perkins Family spoke to the students, praising them for their accomplishments.
“The students here are outstanding,” said Margaret Perkins. “There’s always a large support group for them, as well. We want to thank the family and friends who have been along for the ride for a very long time. They’ve driven long miles and made sacrifices to make sure their student gets done what they need to get done. We appreciate your successful students as well as you for all you’ve done.”
Laura Perkins Fonville spoke to the students, saying it was gratifying to see the students succeeding.
“My advice to you is ‘keep learning,’ whether you want to continue your education or go into the workforce,” she said. “Try to learn as much as you can; everything segues into the next thing. You can get your certificate or degree, but you don’t have to solely define yourself as that. Continue learning at your own pace and do as much as you can; it makes life a lot more interesting.”
Mr. McClure and Ms. Crist spoke on behalf of the students, thanking the Perkins family and everyone involved in the Promise Program.
“For a lot of us, this is a dream come true,” Ms. Crist said. “We are so thankful for your hard work and your ability to judge the needs of your community. Thank you for allowing us to create our future and teaching us that success is undeniable when the work is put in for it. Thank you to Megan Cumbee for her contributions to this program. She has fought tooth and nail for the kids in this program and continuously brings a light to our lives that is unmatched.”
“I don’t have any doubt that without this opportunity, many of the students here, including myself, would not have had the opportunity for a quality college education. Without this scholarship, many of us likely would have had to work an extra job or take on student debt. With the excess of time and absence of stress thanks to this scholarship, we were able to focus and get higher grades on average when compared to other TJC students. This opportunity means the world to me; it gave me a chance to ease into college life and learn what is expected in a college setting.”
Under the program, Rusk students who graduate within the top half of their class with a minimum 2.5 GPA who reside in the Rusk ISD and attended Rusk High School their junior and senior years receive $4,000 per year for two years at TJC.
The program is funded by gifts and pledges from Citizens 1st Bank, the James I. Perkins Family Foundation and others and is a partnership between TJC, Rusk ISD, the TJC Foundation, Citizens 1stBank and the Perkins Family Foundation.
Since the announcement of the first class in February 2014, 230 students have been offered the Rusk TJC Promise Scholarship, with 211 students accepting, including 40 seniors slated to enroll this fall.
The Rusk TJC Citizens Promise was the first program of its kind in the state of Texas. Similar Promise programs have been created at Chapel Hill, Grand Saline, Lindale, Van, Winona and Tyler ISDs.
Dignitaries in attendance included James I. and Margaret Perkins and daughter Laura Perkins Fonville; Rusk Mayor pro-tem Walter Session and wife Maxine, publishers of the Texas Informer newspaper; Rusk City Council members Martin Holsome and Jan Pate; Citizens 1st Bank executive vice-president Charles Hassell and wife Leslie; Citizens 1st Nacogdoches branch executive vice-president Kim Luna; and Rusk ISD superintendent Dr. Scott Davis.