One of the most important times in a student’s academic career is when they graduate high school and decide where they will be going to college. Unfortunately, for many great students, the rising costs of college education can be a serious roadblock to actually attending.
Thanks to Mayor Ron Meer and the City of Michigan City, many great students are getting a chance at a degree with the Promise Scholarship, a brand-new municipal scholarship aimed at getting Michigan City High School students into college so they can come back and help build the community. On Monday, Mayor Meer along with school and city officials met at City Hall to honor the 33 Michigan City seniors that received the Promise Scholarship.
“Thirty-three Michigan City high school seniors graduated as Promise Scholars, that’s about 10 percent the senior class,” said Promise Executive Director Nancy Smith to great applause from the gathered students and family members. “If all of the dollars were paid out, it would be about $153,000 paid to 11 different colleges and universities in the state of Indiana.”
The students’ academic achievement was high, with the average GPA amongst all applicants, including those who did not receive the scholarship, being 3.53.
The Scholarship provides up to $5,000 a year, renewable for four years for Michigan City students who complete the program’s requirements, which include maintaining a good GPA and volunteering for regular community service, and sustaining those requirements throughout their college careers.
The primary aim of the scholarship is to encourage students to return to Michigan City after they receive their degrees in order bring new life to the town.
“The Michigan City Promise Scholarship is definitely a great tool to attract business and new residents to Michigan City, so we see this as a key component to our economic development efforts in Michigan City,” said Clarence Hulse, Executive Director of the Economic Development Corporation of Michigan City. “It will bring people back to Michigan City who will become home buyers, and it will also create a pool of available and qualified employees for companies within Michigan City, both new and existing.”
Mayor Meer was especially proud of this new scholarship, which he believes will attract new families to the area.
“It puts greater value on a home in this city,” Meer said, “You buy a house here, let’s say you have three students who qualify for this ultimately, that’s a $60,000 value. So it’s another reason to live in Michigan City, it’s another reason to participate in the Michigan City Area School system.”
The students were greeted by the mayor personally, who shook their hands and handed them a certificate commemorating their achievement.
While it certainly represents an economic opportunity to the city, it represents something more personal to the students, many of whom would have struggled to pay their tuition. Jonathan Zerbes, who will be studying international business at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, was relieved to have the extra help.
“It was very important because it really cut down on the expense of school, and my scholarship from IU wasn’t big so this was an extra big boost. I don’t have any contribution from myself or my family, so I’m just riding on scholarships and loans. This cut down how much I have to pay back later.”
Zerbes, who is active in Boy Scouts, and volunteers at churches and homeless shelters, also enjoyed the extra community service work. “The community service, I think, is a really great aspect of the scholarship because a lot of people really don’t do a whole lot of community service.”
For more information on the Promise Scholarship, please visit http://michigancitypromise.com