by Victor Lopez
MIDLAND--Their efforts ensure all high school grads in the Tall City have an equal shot at higher education.
Graduations are just around the corner. By now, many of those about to walk the stage, have received their college acceptance letters and are ready to take the next step. Others, however, aren't so lucky.
On Thursday, The First Generation to College Alliance, MISD, Midland College and five other community organizations and churches made a pact to make sure that those first generation students that go to college in the Tall City won't be the last.
"I think it will have generational impact for years to come," Midland College President, Dr. Steve Thomas, said.
With a simple signature, representatives from Casa de Amigos, Emanuel Baptist, Greater Ideal, St. Stephens, Teen Flow and True Lite Christian Fellowship joined Midland College and the Midland Independent School District in supporting higher education.
According to Dr. Ryder Warren, Superintendent of MISD, "This doesn't happen everywhere. This is special. This is happening in Midland because Midland is wrapping it's arms around these kids and telling them, we're going to support you. If you will come through and do your end of the bargain, go school, go to college, do your work, that Midland is going to support them in that."
Midland proudly boasts ties to two U.S. Presidents, a governor and several high profile congressional leaders. This alliance wants today's young people to develop the dream of possibly being the next one.
"They've got to understand, that's just their beginning. With partnerships like this, they're going to continue their education and become those leaders that we expect them to become, here in Midland," Dr. Warren explained.
Finding support for this alliance was easier than most people would have thought.
"It was very across the board. A willingness to lift up this community so that we all prosper. We think that education, obviously, is the way to do that. I think the alliance will grow. I think there will be more organizations, once they know more a little more about what we're doing," Dr. Thomas said.
The full effects of the FGTCA won't be felt for at least another year. For first generation college students of the past, it's an idea whose time is well over due.
"Just getting to know those people, who could help me, was a struggle. It took a couple of years of asking questions and feeling a little angst about getting to know the right people in order to get into college. If I had those resources, signing up for classes, registering, that would have been so much easier and I wouldn't have had to feel so awkward, going to counselors and asking them questions that I felt I should have already known," First Generation College Student, Katrina Graves, said.
Dr. Warren says Midland is setting a standard. In all levels of education, the goal is to make sure the students of today are geared up to become the community leaders of tomorrow.
"I think every single community can look at us as an example of how we're supporting those efforts and I would love them to do the same thing," Warren added.
The alliance partners will each provide scholarships to first generation college students as an incentive to stay in school. They also say, as students become more and more successful in college, they, in turn, become role models for future generations. That's a key factor when it comes to recruitment.