How First Degree Scholarships help
Kentucky School Advocate
By Madelynn Coldiron
KSBA’s scholarship program was born during the presidency of Lincoln County school board member Tom Blankenship, a retired teacher and school principal who understands the value of helping first-generation college goers.
“That kind of breaks the cycle,” he said.
It more than broke the cycle for 2011 inaugural scholarship winner Dustin Adams, who not only was the first in his family to go to college, but to set an example for others.
“That inspired my sister to go to college,” he said. “She got her associate degree and she’s a co-manager at Walmart. And my little brother who just graduated is also going to college, too. I’m not sure that would ever have happened if I never went.”
Adams is grateful for the KSBA help, saying it took care of expenses that weren’t covered by other assistance, helping him graduate from University of Kentucky virtually debt-free.
Makayla McNew, a 2013 winner, said the scholarship “made a huge difference. It’s actually a huge amount if you think about how much I’d have to pay back later. I didn’t have to take out as much of a loan, which was great.”
But beyond the financial and academic aspects of college, McNew said college has given her a picture of the wider world. “You get to meet other people, other cultures and go out and see how the world really is outside of high school,” she said.
Kevin Haney, another UK graduate, echoed that. “It was definitely a lot of help just to have that extra bit going into my freshman year, because even during my freshman year I didn’t have enough financial aid to cover the cost of my tuition,” the 2012 First Degree winner said.
Morgan Stephens has earmarked her $2,500 for books and other resources she needed for her classes. “The more I’ve been at UK, the more I’ve realized that students don’t have the money to even buy their books. And I see how they are unsuccessful in class because they don’t do the readings because it’s so expensive just to pay your tuition and your housing and food from month to month,” said Stephens, a 2014 recipient. “I was very, very fortunate and I thank you all for the scholarship.”