It’s fair to say Haleigh Latham is a leap-of-faith kind of person.
Latham, who will graduate from Tyler Junior College on Friday, accepted a full-ride, transfer scholarship to Baylor University before ever setting foot on its campus.
“It was both exciting and nerve-wracking,” she said, “but it was too great of an opportunity to pass up.”
Since 1989, TJC and Baylor have had an agreement in which one TJC Presidential Honors graduate per year can transfer to Baylor on a full, two-year scholarship.
Historically, TJC students have made successful transitions to Baylor.
“According to what has been reported back to us from Baylor, retention, engagement and completion are much higher proportionally for our transfer students than the true freshman,” said Dave Funk, director of the TJC Presidential Honors Program. “Haleigh would excel anywhere, and it’s just fantastic that she’ll have the opportunity to direct her educational efforts at an institution with resources and opportunities like Baylor.”
Latham first became aware of the opportunity in February, when she was notified that she qualified to apply. In April, she received notification that she had been chosen.
“I’m ecstatic about this opportunity,” she said.
No doubt her parents are feeling much the same.
She laughed, “Yes, they are also very excited about two more free years of college.”
As a top 10 graduate from Arp High School in 2016, Latham was offered a TJC Presidential Honors Scholarship, which fully covered both years at TJC.
“I thought I would go to a four-year university,” she said, “but then I visited TJC, and it turned out to be the best decision. I liked that it was close to home and I immediately loved the student life it offered.”
Latham said she has flourished at TJC, both as a student and as a member of the Presidential Honors Program and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
“I was also able to be an Apache Chief, which changed my life,” she said.
The TJC Apache Chiefs serve as orientation leaders during the summer and campus leaders during the year. Their primary role is to assist students and families as they transition to TJC, but they are also leaders within other campus organizations and the community.
“Haleigh has been a driving force behind the success that our organization and program has had over the past two years,” said Murphy Turner, TJC coordinator of New Student Orientation. “She cares deeply about helping our students find a home at TJC and making their transition experience special. She has a bright future ahead of her and I am certain she will do amazing things for the world.”
At TJC, Latham majored in general studies; but at Baylor, she will narrow her focus to Spanish, with plans to eventually teach at the college level.
This week, her focus is on soaking in her last few moments as a TJC student.
“This has been a great place to go to school, and I would actually love to come back here and teach someday,” she said. “I really feel like I have a home at TJC.”