21st Century Scholars kick-off brought to SHS

Constant support for program attracts Indiana Commission for Higher Education


Lyndsay Valadez

Helpers from Indiana Commission for Higher Education and counselors walk around assisting eligible 21st Century Scholars juniors in looking for scholarships. Pictured, junior Juan Lopez was one of the 3 $100 scholarship winners that day.

Haley Miller, Reporter

Jam-packed and buzzing with conversation, Room 117 contained more than one hundred juniors during iPass, each one searching for scholarships, participating in raffles and hearing information about the 21st Century Scholars Program. Their success and dedication to the program over time caused the Indiana Commission for Higher Education to choose SHS as the site of the Cash for College Kick-off.

“Southport does such an awesome job with (its) scholars,” said Brittany Kurt, events coordinator for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. “We just wanted to celebrate the amazing work that the students and the counselors do here.”

The kick-off, which took place on Jan. 25, was part of the commission’s annual campaign to support high school students around the state in completing the 21st Century Scholarship requirements. Junior scholars had the opportunity to be part of the opening event this year, because around 90 percent of SHS’s scholars are on track to receive the scholarship, according to SHS Counseling Director Julie Fierce.

To stay on track, scholars have to meet academic and financial requirements, but they also have to participate in activities related to the program every year. During the event at SHS, they searched for scholarships using websites suggested by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, or CHE.

“We’re signed up for (scholarship websites), so now they’ll send you emails about scholarships you can apply for,” junior Regina Castellanos said. “(The websites are) really interesting.”

CHE also offered three $100 micro-scholarships to be raffled off on the same day. The money, awarded to juniors Amber Weaver, Juan Lopez and So Mue, was deposited in the winners’ new 529 college savings plans. The plans are essentially savings accounts for college, with one of their benefits being that they often don’t hinder a student’s ability to qualify for financial aid.

In addition to the micro-scholarships, many juniors were at the kick-off to continue working towards the 21st Century Scholarship, which covers four years of undergraduate tuition at many colleges and universities in Indiana. According to CHE Communications Director John Johansson, SHS is one of the “bright spots” in the area. He says the high number of eligible students is exciting, because education is becoming more necessary than ever.

The high number of eligible students partly has to do with the coordinators of the program. At SHS, Guidance Counselors Erin Shimp and Lamont Rascoe work to ensure that students keep their GPAs up and continue meeting all of the requirements for the scholarship. Shimp says they spend a lot of time making sure that the scholars’ activities are completed and talking with them about their options for post-secondary education.

“We have a lot of great students here at Southport,” Shimp said. “It’s important that all of them reach their goals.”