Tyler Junior College recently recognized its eighth class of Rusk High School graduates to attend TJC on the Rusk TJC Citizens Promise Scholarship.
In February 2014, the James I. Perkins Family Foundation — along with Citizens 1st Bank, Rusk ISD, TJC and the TJC Foundation — established the Rusk TJC Citizens Promise.
The first program of its kind in Texas, the Rusk Promise covers up to two years at TJC for Rusk students who graduate in the top half of their class with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Qualifying students must also reside in Rusk ISD and must have attended Rusk High School for grades 11 and 12.
Graduating scholars received cords to wear at last week’s TJC commencement, with their colors representing their status as alumni of both Rusk High School (red and black) and TJC (gold and black).
“Of the 12 students graduating, seven are graduating with honors,” said Megan Cumbee Burns, senior manager of TJC scholarships and the Rusk TJC Citizens Promise. “As a group, all students being recognized in this cohort have accomplished a 3.2 cumulative GPA, continuing to outperform their counterparts within the TJC student population in hours and cumulative GPA. This great accomplishment is due to the students’ hard work and dedication.”
The 2023 Rusk Promise scholars are:
• Mya Bowden, pursuing a general studies degree
• Carrie Boykin, pursuing a game and simulation development graphics degree
• Gabriel Bradshaw, pursuing a welding technology degree
• Kenneth Chihuon, graduating with honors, with a general studies degree
• Cody DeBord, pursuing a mathematics degree
• Lane Gilchrest, graduating with honors, with a general studies degree
• Erika Gonzalez-Alonso, graduating with a general studies degree
• Victoria Green, graduating with honors, with a general studies degree
• Jett Jenkins, graduating with honors, with a criminal justice degree
• Balleigh Jones, graduating with an education degree
• Makayla Jones, graduating with honors, with a pre-nursing degree
• Dalton Martin, graduating with honors, with a network technology degree
• Kyleigh McClure, graduating with a psychology degree
• Raven Moore, pursuing a general studies degree
• Brayden Pike, pursuing a biology degree
• Rickey Sadler Jr., graduating with an automotive technology degree
• Madison Stanford, pursuing a pre-nursing degree
• Marcos Torres, pursuing a general studies degree
• Grace Veitch, graduating with honors, with a visual communications degree
• Jazmin Vences, pursuing a science degree
• Landen Weaver, pursuing a computer science degree
• Macy Woodruff, graduating with a general studies degree
Erika Gonzalez-Alonzo spoke on behalf of the graduating students. At TJC, she was a member of the TJC Speech and Debate team and the Hispanic Student Association. She plans to transfer to UT Tyler continue her education.
“Receiving the Rusk Promise opened an opportunity to go to college, which was an opportunity that my parents didn’t have, nor did many other first-generation students,” she said. “It opened a path to furthering my education and making my dream of becoming a family lawyer come true, little by little, and it opened a path to future first-generation students to go to college and to not give up on their dreams.”
She continued, “As a first-generation college student, I didn’t know what college would be about. I had no one to go to for questions or to ask what college was like. Going to college was a dream that I wasn’t sure would come true. It was talked about in my family almost every day, and my parents always told my sister and I to work hard for our dreams and that they will come true — and so far, they have.”
For more on the Rusk TJC Citizens Promise, go to TJC.edu/RuskPromise.