LARGO – Thirty-seven students in Prince George’s County can breathe a little easier after receiving a scholarship to cover a full year of tuition, books and fees at Prince George’s Community College (PGCC). On Wednesday, March 16, at the PGCC campus, the community college, along with Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) and County Councilman […]
LARGO – Thirty-seven students in Prince George’s County can breathe a little easier after receiving a scholarship to cover a full year of tuition, books and fees at Prince George’s Community College (PGCC).
On Wednesday, March 16, at the PGCC campus, the community college, along with Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) and County Councilman Derrick Davis, celebrated students in the inaugural Inspiring Leadership and Excellence evening
Olivia Pearson, supervisor for college readiness at PGCPS, said the evening event came together through a partnership between PGCPS and PGCC. The scholarships were awarded to as many as two seniors from each local public high school who were nominated by their principals and teachers. The students had to meet minimum requirements such as a 3.5 grade point average, at least 50 community services hours and have shown interest in attending the community college. Each student at the ceremony received a scholarship to PGCC, which was raised through the Prince George’s Community College Foundation.
Lateefah Durant, an officer for college and career readiness and innovative programs at PGCPS, said the event was just one part of a continuing partnership between the county school system and PGCPS.
“This is also part of our larger partnership with Prince George’s Community College. We’ve partnered with them on dual enrollment and a host of other college-ready initiatives. So we’re just really excited about this inaugural event,” Durant said.
Pearson said PGCPS has initiated a pre-k to 20 continuum, where the county and the county school system wishes to foster and guide students through grade school and into college or careers. She said the goal is to help students get to community college so they can go on to a four-year university.
“This is one of the steps,” Pearson said.
Durant said it is incredibly important to recognize and help students by showing them pathways to the future and offering scholarships to help them get there.
“We know a lot of students clearly have the aptitude to go to college, but they don’t always have the financial means to go on to post-secondary education,” she said. “They are high achieving and so that’s part of the challenge that sometimes our highest achieving students still don’t have the access.”
But, Durant said, the principals and teachers involved in the process did not just pick the top students, but picked students who would most benefit from the opportunity of a free year of community college.
“We just really want to show that there is this next step and that it’s very real for everyone and it is achievable,” Pearson said. “And that they can do it locally.”
During the award ceremony, both PGCPS Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell and Davis, who represents the district where PGCC resides, shared their stories of education and how they obtained their positions.
Davis spoke about his academic journey and offered the students some advice. He said dreams and hopes are critical, but also lauded discipline, hard work and practice. Davis asked the students to take up the responsibility, take their success and turn it into opportunities, and to make their way in the world. He also wanted them to bring their knowledge back to the county.
“I want you to bring it back home to the place that is really sowed into you, so you can do the same thing that we’re doing,” he said.
Maxwell also shared his story, which began in Prince George’s County, took at stop at PGCC, made a turn in the military, continued at the University of Maryland, and eventually returned to the county. He said, however, he would not have had the same opportunities without PGCC.
“Community college opened so many doors for me,” Maxwell said. “With what I learned at community college, I was easily accepted to the University of Maryland College Park when I got out of the Navy.”
Ricardo Quinteros, coordinator of recruitment at PGCC, said the scholarships are all about creating opportunities for Prince George’s County students.
“A lot of times we feel Prince George’s County is overlooked in a lot of ways. People don’t seem to realize the tremendous talent we have right here in Prince George’s County,” he said.
Neya Abdosh from Bowie High School, Cynthia Ubah from DuVal High School and Nyair Washington from Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School all received scholarships during the award celebration. All three said they felt grateful for the celebration and said it was a surprise to be recognized at a countywide event.
“I was just proud that I actually was recognized for all the hard work that I put in throughout my high school experience,” Washington said.
Abdosh said she knew there would be money attached to the honor, but said she was surprised to learn she was getting an entire year at PGCC for free. She said she was going to apply for the scholarship otherwise and felt blessed to have a full year free.
“I really feel honored to get this scholarship because it makes me feel that there are people who actually care, who want to push me and make me go further in my education,” she said.
All three said they felt relief knowing they have a year of college for free and they know they have options.
“It helps me out a lot, so I’m just excited to move on with it and keep pushing,” Abdosh said.