Kennebec Journal Highlights cPort's Augusta Scholarship Program
By Keith Edwards firstname.lastname@example.org
AUGUSTA (July 19, 2010)-- Kelsey Tran, who attends Lincoln Elementary School, wants to go to Rivier College in Nashua, N.H., to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner so she can help people with mental disabilities.
Samantha Buck, of Farrington Elementary School, wants to go to Baptist Bible College and Seminary so she can be a missionary school teacher and help underprivileged kids in foreign countries.
Andrew Levesque, of Gilbert Elementary School, wants to go to either the University of Montana, Unity College, Norwich University or West Point to become a game warden and "save wildlife, stop poaching and put people to justice."
And Sierra Kanaris, of Hussey Elementary School, wants to go to Princeton University to become a veterinarian because they "are people who help animals that got hurt or got abused."
Those are the college and life plans of four of the Augusta fifth- and sixth-graders who participated in an essay and scholarship program meant to help raise students' aspirations and get them thinking early about what sort of higher education they'll need to achieve their goals in life.
The program was sponsored by cPort Credit Union and led in the classrooms by Yarmouth Educational Consultants President Bob Stuart and local teachers.
"Our teachers really embraced it and let the kids go to it," Lincoln Principal Lori Bolster said. "The kids really thought out of the box.
"It was fabulous. It really got all the kids thinking they can go on and pursue an education and be what they want to be when they grow up. Self-examination can be hard at 10 or 11 years old. We don't give them many opportunities to think about themselves in that way."
Some 20 students writing award-winning essays were given $100 scholarships, to be put into a cPort account to be used to help pay for higher education. Each of the approximately 140 students who participated in the program received a certificate.
Some of the students' essays include potent accounts of what they want to do and why.
Camille Grover, of Lincoln Elementary, wrote: "My grandmother fought her cancer, but she died from the disease. I want to help others who suffer like my grandmother did. I think an oncology nurse would be a good job for me because I like helping people with their health. I would do anything to help these ill people."
Augusta native Gene Ardito, CEO of cPort Credit Union, said the credit union started the program in an elementary school in Portland three years ago.
He said he pushed to start it after seeing his own two children struggling, in high school, to figure out what they wanted to do with their lives.
"A lot of kids don't focus on what they're going to do until they're juniors or seniors," Ardito said. "High school may not be too late, but waiting until then does create a very stressful situation. We want them to start early, do their own research and just get them thinking about what they want to do and what kinds of schools might provide you with the knowledge to do that. It also teaches them about saving for higher education.
"They may have people in their lives who say they can't go to college, that it's too expensive. We want them to know that's not true."
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