Back in 2001, West Virginia made a strong investment in its young people.
The Promise Scholarship was introduced. Students meeting prescribed standards had their tuition paid if they elected to receive their higher education at a West Virginia institution.
The program, due to budgetary concerns, has changed over the years. The scholarship now covers $4,750 for students, while the average in-state tuition is more than $6,000. Higher standards for students have also been imposed.
Currently, 10,000 students in West Virginia are attending college on the scholarship.
It’s a program of tremendous value to the students, and the state wins, as well.
A study released last week by West Virginia University’s Bureau of Business and Economics found that Promise recipients are more likely than other state students to stay in West Virginia after graduation. On average, just 43 percent of students who earn a bachelor’s degree in West Virginia stay here to build their careers. By contrast, 60 percent of Promise students stay.
Listen to the words of Kristen Pennington, chair of the West Virginia University Student Advocates for Legislative Advancement, who attended a meeting in Charleston last Tuesday to discuss the future of the Promise scholarship.
Pennington, who was in the last high school class to receive the scholarship at the fully funded rate, has committed to staying in West Virginia for the rest of her life.
“It has made me ready to give my entire life to the state of West Virginia. I want to stay here for grad school, I want to stay here for law school, I want to stay here for work, to get married, to have children,” Pennington was quoted by The Charleston Gazette. “This is a state worth investing in, and the Promise invests in students — and I’m a little biased — but they’re worth investing in as well.”
Those who led the implementation of the Promise Scholarship remain strong supporters.
Former Gov. Bob Wise noted the strong numbers of recipients who moved on to good-paying jobs in West Virginia.
“The refrain usually runs, ‘What’s the point of educating them if the jobs aren’t there?’” he told the Charleston Daily Mail. “But if we don’t have educated young people, those jobs aren’t coming here. My hope is that these students who are the hardest working will create the seeds of not only their own success but our own success as a state as well.”
Lloyd Jackson, a member of the West Virginia Board of Education and former state senator who sponsored the bill establishing Promise, believes the scholarship is an economic driver that needs even stronger support in the Legislature.
“We have a state that’s financially very solid, that’s ready to move into the future,” he said. “I’m convinced the jobs are going to be here if we have the people here to take them ... and Promise is a tool that I think we’re not taking full advantage of.”
He noted that students responded when tougher standards were put in place.
“I think we ought to go back to fully funding the Promise. What we found was that every time, kids will rise to meet the challenge,” he said. “We ought to be tickled to death in West Virginia if we can move ahead in national numbers.”
A well-educated work force is critical if West Virginia is to see its economy diversify and grow and its population loss to end, and we know Promise contributes strongly to that objective.
“You’re the generation that will determine whether or not the Promise continues. The Promise is a promise, if we can keep it, and it has steadily been chipped away at,” Wise said. “People have got to realize that the single best investment they can make is in the Promise.”
West Virginia students are doing their part to earn the Promise Scholarship and have stayed in state in strong numbers after graduation. It’s essential that West Virginia leaders do all they can to keep Promise strong.
Back in 2001, West Virginia made a strong investment in its young people.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law
West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.
Strong Fairmont General Hospital badly needed to serve our region
Mere minutes often matter when it comes to emergency health care.
That’s why we need a strong Fairmont General Hospital.
When patients need the services of health-care professionals, having family and friends close at hand is often essential, and their presence may even lead to a better outcome.
COLUMN: Fairmont General Hospital vital part of community
There’s nothing better than holding a newborn baby. It gives you a little feeling that not only is everything right in the world, but this perfect little human represents hope of a future where things will be better than they are today.
I had that blessed opportunity to hold that hopeful future in my arms last week when I visited my dear friend Jen and her newborn son Tristan at Fairmont General Hospital.
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