Grissom Scholars Program enriches the Centre Experience

Posted by Centre News in News 03 Feb 2016

First-generation students, faculty and staffCentre College’s commitment to opportunity and an excellent liberal arts education for students of all backgrounds is deeply reflected in the Grissom Scholars Program, one of the College’s premier scholarships. Available to first-year applicants, the program offers ten high achieving first-generation college students a full-tuition scholarship and $5,000 in educational enrichment funds.

This fall, Centre welcomed the first inaugural class of ten Grissom Scholars. Selected from a highly competitive, immensely talented group of applicants, the class represents eight states: Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Minnesota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. In total, the Class of 2019 includes 75 first-generation college students—20 percent of the class.

First-year Liv Chavez said that the Grissom Scholars Program has already greatly impacted her college experience, in particular the sense of community the group has and the support of Associate Dean and Director of the Grissom Scholars Program and Student Leadership Sarah Scott Hall.

“By having a cohort of students that share a similar background, I have found that the transition from high school to college was a lot easier than I expected,” Chavez explained. “Our meetings as a group reinforce the bond that we all share and provide us with a safe space to grow as people and students.”

That confidence is allowing her to be a trailblazer.

“To me, being a first-generation college student means being a leader,” she said. “In being a first-generation student I’ve found that self-motivation and ambition are especially crucial to navigating life as a college student.”

Through the Grissom Scholars Program and her time at Centre, Chavez hopes to realize her dream of studying abroad in Strasbourg, France, after studying French for eight years. She is also eager to participate in sociological research.

“Centre has made it a realistic possibility for me,” she said. “I think being at Centre will prepare me with the skills to do both of these things and more.”

Made possible through a generous gift from Marlene and J. David Grissom, the scholarship is renewable for four years. If needed, additional aid will cover the cost of room and board, books and transportation.

Additionally, an integral part of the program includes a unique orientation focused on personal growth and team-building that Grissom Scholars attend the summer before their first year at Centre. Each Grissom Scholar receives personal guidance from the program director to develop a four-year plan for college. $5,000 in enrichment funds will enable each Grissom Scholar to pursue special opportunities such as study abroad, independent research and academic internships.

At least one of every six Centre faculty members are also first-generation graduates, and almost half of the College’s senior staff members are first-generation graduates. These people give key support to the success of all students and especially those who are first in their family to attend college, encouraging an atmosphere of new initiatives such as the recently formed organization CentreFirsts.

The CentreFirsts club focuses on first-generation students and bringing awareness to equity in education. The group works to create a space for students to learn about new initiatives that are being taken up by the College to welcome first-generation students. At the end of 2015, more than 50 members had signed up to participate.

The multi-faceted organization not only gives support, encouragement and leadership development opportunities to first-generation college students at Centre but also other students at the College who are interested in first-generation student issues and education quality in general. Members can also get involved in the community by providing mentorship to those looking to become first-generation students themselves.

“We initiated this club because, as first-generation students ourselves, we believe in the importance of making every college student feel at home,” Stacy Crescencio, president of CentreFirsts, said, “especially those who are completely new to the college experience.”

Learn more about the Grissom Scholars Program.

Pictured: Centre College’s inaugural class of Grissom Scholars.

As a courtesy to nominators and applicants, the deadline has been extended for our premier scholarship programs:

Students are encouraged to submit their scholarship application(s) prior to the extended February 8 deadline.

by Elise L. Murrell
February 3, 2016

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