WINGATE — Three years after launching a college access program in conjunction with Union County Public Schools, Wingate University on Thursday distributed full-tuition scholarships to 11 Wayfind scholars entering into their senior years of high school this fall.
The scholarships, contingent on maintaining good grades and good student behavior, were presented Thursday at a celebratory luncheon held to mark the end of Camp Wayfind, an immersive four-day experience that gives students a front – taste of life on a university campus. The celebration also took place the same week that Wingate received a $150,000 grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund to help support Wayfind over the next two years.
“I am honored to lead a program that can transform the lives of such deserving young people. I look forward to seeing Wayfind Scholars graduate from high school, Wingate University, and move on to graduate school or begin professional careers,” said Dr. Abby Holland, Program Director. “Thanks to generous funding from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, we will be able to provide more rewarding experiences for mentors and scholars while further easing the financial burden of attending college.”
Scholarship recipient Tessa Stewart, who also received an award for being the Wayfind scholar with the highest senior GPA at Forest Hills High, said she was delighted to be accepted into Wingate, her college of first choice.
“Being part of Wayfind will push me to work harder in my senior year because I see that hard work pays off,” Stewart said. “To me, Wayfind is about everyone striving and working together towards the same goal and having a positive mindset.”
A selective program that prioritizes students who are historically underrepresented in higher education (i.e. first-generation students of color), Wayfind enrolls 20 teacher-recommended eighth-graders each year colleges in Monroe and East Union that have demonstrated academic promise through their grades, attendance, and behavior.
Once accepted, Wayfind Fellows receive mentorship and support for the next 4.5 years from middle school through high school. Those who complete the full mentorship program and meet Wingate’s admission requirements are eligible for the full scholarship.
Carson Corley says having already been accepted to Wingate will take the stress out of his final year at Forest Hills, but he still plans to work hard academically.
“I can’t relax. I have to meet the expectations of Wingate University and hope to increase my GPA even more,” he says.
Jose Solis Bello, who heads to Wingate from Monroe High, says he’s also motivated to finish strong. He credits Wayfind with expanding his circle of friends and helping him thrive academically even after going through a tough time.
“I made a mistake in my second year and saw how much it affected my GPA, and realized I might lose my chance to get the scholarship, so I started to work harder. Last semester I got some of the best grades of my life,” Bello said. “I wanted to continue being part of Wayfind because it’s fun and encouraging. It taught me a lot about responsibility.
Kennitha Dillard was one of many parents at the banquet on Thursday to celebrate their teenage success. She said her son Jerry’s participation in Wayfind helped prepare him for life after high school.
“It’s been good for him, meeting different people and opening up a lot of opportunities for him. The mentoring and goal setting activities have helped him stay focused,” Dillard said.
Jerry Dillard plans to study business at Wingate.
Chrishaun Hough, who was inducted into the program while at Monroe High, has since transferred to Porter Ridge High but was accepted to Wingate as a cohort member and was thrilled to be able to attend Camp Wayfind. Using a wheelchair since being injured in a shooting that killed his cousin in January 2020, Hough hasn’t let the tragic event stop him. He said he was thrilled to be with his Wayfind family last week and is looking forward to college and a potential career in sports broadcasting.
Along with being accepted into Wingate, Hough was recognized as the scholar with “the most contagious energy”.
“Seeing his love and passion has changed me as a person, and his impact on the Wayfind community is going to be felt for years to come,” said David McCallister, one of 13 Wingate undergraduates who serve. from mentors to Wayfind Fellows.
After acknowledging the students with the highest marks, Dr. Holland let the mentors present camp spirit awards to their outstanding mentees, many of whom were moved to tears when the mentors shared their
were deeply proud of the scholars’ achievements and encouraged by parents and family members.
Wayfind will once again recognize its first cohort of college students next spring as a new group of 20 eighth-graders will be inducted into the program and given an even higher level of support, thanks to the grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.
In addition to extending the length of Camp Wayfind and adding more cultural excursions to the experience, the grant funds will help provide Spanish-speaking scholars the opportunity to earn college credit through exam program testing. college level. (Over 70% of Wayfind searchers identify as Latinx, and most speak Spanish at home.)
The funds will also help provide an English 110 class for interested scholars who want to take advantage of dual enrollment while still in high school, and the grant will also allow a group of scholars and mentors to attend a national conference to help them develop their public speaking skills. Other costs to be covered by duPont funds include instructional materials such as ACT prep books, craft supplies, and materials to complete STEM challenges.