Signing ceremony heralds TJC Promise scholarship program | TJC

Signing ceremony heralds TJC Promise scholarship program

As part of its 90th anniversary celebration, TJC officials have announced the TJC Promise, a bold new scholarship initiative that will benefit high school students within the college’s tax district.

The TJC Promise will fund up to two years of college for students who meet the standards of the new program while attending high school.

Today, TJC President Dr. Mike Metke held an official signing ceremony with school superintendents from TJC’s tax district, including:

  • Donni Cook, Chapel Hill ISD
  • Micah Lewis, Grand Saline ISD
  • Stan Surratt, Lindale ISD
  • Marty Crawford, Tyler ISD
  • Don Dunn, Van ISD
  • Cody Mize, Winona ISD

Beginning with the class of 2020, eligible high school graduates from these districts can receive up to two years of tuition and fees at TJC.

“The TJC Promise is an earned scholarship,” said TJC President Dr. Mike Metke. “A student promises to work hard, make good grades, give back to the community and come directly to TJC following graduation from high school. In return, we promise to provide the opportunity for them to continue their education.”

The TJC Promise was inspired by the Rusk TJC Citizens Promise, the first promise program of its kind in the state of Texas, which is privately funded by gifts from Citizens 1st Bank, The James I. Perkins Family Foundation and others. 

The new program is being developed in partnership with leaders from surrounding school districts.

“In Van, our motto is ‘after high school comes college,’” Dunn said, “and the TJC Promise will help us build a stronger, college-going culture. This is a game changer.”

With more than 120 degree and certificate programs available at the college, plus extensive technical and training programs, students will benefit from the TJC Promise whether they plan to transfer to a four-year institution or go directly into the workforce.

In May, Dr. Metke and superintendents shared the goods new with eighth-graders and their parents. Those eighth-graders, who are now high school freshmen, will be the first group of students eligible for the TJC Promise.

“The TJC Promise was announced during our eighth-grade awards ceremony, and parents responded with a standing ovation,” said Cody Mize, superintendent at Winona ISD.

For each high school, the TJC Promise will carry a community-branded name. For example, in Tyler the scholarship will be the Tyler TJC Promise.

The TJC Promise will offer a path to higher education by making college accessible and affordable. Scholarship standards are based on student performance in high school, which will instill behaviors early on to ensure students will be successful in high school, college and beyond.

Students informed of the new opportunity expressed strong interest.

“It gives us opportunities for a better future, and it’s good that it requires students to make good grades, too. Not just anyone can get it, but you actually have to work for it,” said Lindale High School freshman Makayla Johnson.

Tom Mullins, president/CEO of the Tyler Economic Development Council, said the economic impact of the TJC Promise will be significant.

“The TJC Promise Scholarship is a targeted way to encourage students who are serious about their education to stay in school and work hard,” he said. “If they stay with the program, they will be more likely to continue their education beyond high school and become productive members of our society.”

This fall, TJC officials will host information sessions at each high school within the tax district. During these sessions, students and parents will have the opportunity to learn about the TJC Promise and the educational opportunities at TJC.

High school freshmen and their families will then have the opportunity to sign the TJC Promise Pledge and agree to meet the yearly scholarship requirements, which are based on academic achievement, persistence and community service.

At the conclusion of each school year, Promise students will receive a congratulatory letter from TJC President Dr. Metke.

“I hope other communities will see the TJC Promise as a model for success and follow in our actions,” Metke said.

“Nationwide the data from similar promise programs shows that more students attend and complete college and that the programs even have a positive impact on student behavior at the high school level.”

The TJC Promise is a broad partnership with the East Texas community. The college and the TJC Foundation are currently seeking private gifts to establish a $20 million endowment to fund the Promise for the future. An anonymous lead donor has provided a $5 million commitment.

“Our lead contributor has made an extraordinary gift, and we are seeking committed community members who share in the vision of the TJC Promise,” Metke said.

“Across the nation, promise programs are making the American dream fresh. They are becoming vehicles of upward mobility by providing broader access to a college education. This is a win-win for our students and community. “ 

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