Elementary School College Scholarship Recipients Visit Bates College
Fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh grade students from Portland and Augusta visited a college campus on March 29, manyfor the first time. About thirty 2011 scholarship recipients of cPort Credit Union’s College Aspirations Scholarship Program toured Bates College in Lewiston.
While at Bates, the scholarship recipients spoke with a panel of Bates students about life in college, toured campus, and ate lunch in the dining hall. This was the first visit to a college campus for many of the students.
cPort Credit Union has sponsored the College Aspirations Scholarship Program for elementary school students since 2007 to help encourage students to actively think about their future goals, and how higher education may help to achieve those goals. Students are asked to write an essay about what they are interested in now and how that might carry into future college studies. cPort awarded a total of fifty-two $100 college scholarships last year.
cPort Credit Union, in partnership with Bob Stuart, Executive Director of Maine College Circle, provides workshops to the students on career choices and college selection to best achieve those career aspirations. Teachers assist the students with their research and essay preparation.
The campus visit for past recipients was added to the scholarship program in 2011, held at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. In a scholarship application essay from Riverton Elementary in 2011, one student who attended the Bowdoin visit wrote, “I’ve recently visited Bowdoin College and it was a blast! Now when I think about college campus my body tingles.” The campus visit helps to bring the program’s message full-circle that “everyone can go to college” by making college, which may seem like a distant concept to some students , a reality, and by getting students excited about the prospect of pursuing studies beyond high school.
Students’ winning application essays in 2011 focused on future careers ranging from video game designers and lawyers to pediatricians and wildlife biologists, and students expressed interest in attending colleges from local institutions to those on the west coast. Over 400 students from the six schools participated in the program in 2011.
“We believe this innovative program is truly making a difference for these students,” said cPort CEO Gene Ardito. “We have heard from teachers about individual students who have shown a real turnaround in the classroom after participating in the program.”
The 2012 Aspirations program is well under way in all four Augusta elementary schools and Riverton Elementary and Ocean Avenue School in Portland. Awards ceremonies will be held at each school in April and May.