New Scholarship Program Targets Gratiot County Students

Alma College will award full tuition scholarships to 10 area students every year as part of the Alma College Community Engagement Scholarship Program.

Up to 10 community-engaged Gratiot County students will receive four-year, full tuition scholarships every year as part of a new Alma College program that seeks to expand and deepen the partnership between Alma College and surrounding communities.

The Alma College Community Engagement (ACE) Scholarship was created as a result of conversations between community education leaders and Alma College administrators. The program targets Gratiot County’s most community-involved students who could not otherwise afford an Alma College education.

<em>Members of the Alma College football team paint fire hydrants as part of a community initiative.</em> Members of the Alma College football team paint fire hydrants as part of a community initiative.Graduating seniors from Gratiot County or Gratiot County high schools may apply for the scholarship beginning Sept. 28.

“Our strategic plan includes a commitment to strengthening the campus/community connections,” says Alma College President Jeff Abernathy. “This new program will enable outstanding students from Gratiot County the opportunity to receive an Alma education that will prepare them for leadership opportunities and a great career. I’m excited about this collaborative effort to invest in the Alma and greater Gratiot communities.”

Community service is a major component of the ACE Scholars Program. It not only rewards community involvement that students demonstrated in high school, it also supports continuing community service and leadership roles. During their four years at Alma College, the scholars will volunteer with local agencies, serve as Community Engagement Ambassadors, attend workshops and professional development conferences and participate in service/leadership student organizations.

The program fulfills a community need by providing an undergraduate education for students who might not otherwise consider Alma College as a viable choice because of cost, says Donalynn Ingersoll, superintendent of Alma Public Schools.

“Many of our students are active and engaged in community, church and local non-profit organizations, but then they graduate and cannot afford a college education or they leave our area to attend school in another community,” says Ingersoll. “The ACE program opens a way for some of these students to enroll at Alma College and continue their community involvement. We are extremely supportive and excited to be a part of this initiative.”

<em>Alma College students participate in Relay for Life.</em> Alma College students participate in Relay for Life.By 2021, four classes of ACE Scholars will be engaged in the program, representing a $1.5 million investment by Alma College in the education of Gratiot County students.

“These are the students that Alma College covets — active, engaged students who want to make a difference in their home communities,” says Abernathy. “Our Center for Student Opportunity will guide these students through their Alma education and provide beneficial experiences for them outside the classroom, such as alternative breaks, service projects and internships. This is a win-win program for both our community and Alma College.”

High school seniors interested in the program must apply for admission to Alma College, submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and complete an ACE Scholarship application that includes an essay “to describe your vision for community involvement while enrolled at Alma College.” The deadline for applications is Jan. 1, with selection and announcement of the ACE Scholars made by March 1.

The scholarships will be renewed each year of enrollment, provided all program requirements are met, for a total of four years.

Story published on September 27, 2017