Category Archives: #MNPSco2017
Ginder and Henry were two of more than 3,200 winners of National Merit Scholarships financed by U.S. colleges and universities. Officials of each sponsor college select their scholarship winners from the finalists in the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program who plan to attend their institution.
The awards provide between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at the institution financing the scholarship.
Ginder received his scholarship from Tennessee Tech University where he will study physics. Henry’s scholarship is from the University of Chicago, where he plans to major in computer engineering.
Congratulations to both of these students on this impressive achievement!
Lilia Rafful is a first-generation immigrant who was brought to the United States from Mexico as a child by her mother. Because of the language barrier, her family was unaware of how to go about getting the proper paperwork for legally obtaining citizenship.
The Secretary of Homeland Security announced in June 2012 that students like Lilia would receive a special status, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA to remain in the United Status, attend college or obtain employment.
As a DACA student, Lilia ran into several obstacles when it came time to apply to colleges and finding money for college. Because she is a DACA student she is not able to fill out the FAFSA or have the opportunity for the TNPromise. Her only opportunity to attend college is to go to a school and pay out of state tuition which can be three times more than in-state tuition, even though she has lived in the US since she was 4-years-old.
Lilia marched at the Tennessee state capitol earlier this year to show her support to the state senators that wanted to pass SB-1014, which would have offered in-state tuition to undocumented youth in Tennessee. The bill failed to pass.
To make it even more frustrating for Lilia, she received a letter from a college in Tennessee stating that she was admitted and they had a program that would offer her in-state tuition. Lilia and her mom drove four hours to the university to fill out the paperwork only to find out that the university made a mistake in sending her that letter and they could not offer it to her. This did not stop Lilia from pursuing her dream of attending college.
Lilia researched and reached out to several schools and organizations that offer assistance to DACA students. She has been accepted to Trevecca Nazarene University, who does a great job working with DACA students and has received a $44,000 scholarship from them to help with tuition.
“This is truly what America is about,” said Lilia’s school counselor.
When Jontae Meadows, a senior at Hume-Fogg Magnet High School, started high school, he faced struggles most students don’t. He was practically homeless and lacked the focus and fundamental skills he needed to be successful at an academic magnet.
When most students would use their difficult situation as a crutch or excuse, Jontae didn’t. His interest in young adult fiction and love of reading helped him persevere.
When Jontae entered his junior year, he started showing maturity, both personally and academically. He effectively used his study hall period, improved his grades and continued reading.
Jontae has maintained his motivation throughout his senior year and applied to multiple colleges. He will be graduating on May 16 and looks forward to going to college in the fall.
For his entire senior year, Robert Taylor, a senior at Middle College High School, has been living independently.
The summer before his senior year, Robert aged out of Department of Children Services custody, and since then he has been a part of the Independent Living Program with Monroe Harding.
“He is a very responsible, mature and determined young man,” said Chanta Hobson, his school counselor. “He is unlike any other senior I have known in my career.”
Despite his personal hardships, Robert has managed to have a successful senior year by taking care of all of his academic and personal responsibilities. This fall he will participate in the Volunteer Bridge Program, a program for students that will attend Pellissippi State Community College for their first year of college. He will then transfer to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in the fall of 2018.
Abdul and his family moved to the United States from Yemen in 2010 to escape the country’s devastating economic hardships. Though he was still in middle school at the time, he took personal responsibility to learn to speak, read and write English. He has always pursued the most rigorous curriculum he could successfully navigate, as he truly believes in the value of hard work and accepting challenges. Though he can readily recall many days when he went home and cried because he was teased for not knowing the English language, he never let that “roadblock” dampen his optimism and enthusiasm for learning.
Abdul is a valued member of Pearl Cohn’s Academy of Entertainment Communication Broadcasting Team, and has developed advanced skills as a camera operator, editor, producer, and director. He was nominated for a student Emmy Award for his work on “Justice,” a student-produced courtroom miniseries. He regularly creates both football and basketball television stories for broadcasts. He is an outstanding soccer player, a community volunteer, and a dedicated employee of the Capitol Tower Market, where he stocks and serves as cashier. His ability to speak both English and Arabic serves him well in his customer service-oriented job.
“Abdul’s resilience and dogged determination are well-known and admired by both peers and faculty,” said Connie Hensley, a college and career counselor at Pearl-Cohn High School. His favorite quote is from Paul Brandt: “Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.” We have no doubt that Abdul will continue reaching for the moon!
Abdul graduated in the top five percent of his graduating class this year. During his senior year he enrolled in Advanced Placement classes and earned recognition for both perfect attendance and Honor Roll. He will attend Belmont University next year on a full “Bridges to Belmont” scholarship.
Due to stressful family situations, Sharif Ezzeir, a senior at Overton High School, faced more obstacles than the average high school student.
In January, Sharif found himself without a place to live. A teacher helped him complete homeless paperwork and file for social service assistance to find an apartment and transportation to get to work.
Sharif secured a job so he could pay his rent and was introduced to William E. Cartagena-Vazquez, a staff sergeant in the United States Army. Meeting the staff sergeant sparked an interest in Sharif to join the army. He passed the ASVAB with flying colors and will serve in the United States Army after graduating.