May 01, 2012
Fifteen Galesburg eighth-grade students were inducted into the George Washington Gale Scholars Class of 2016 this spring at Carl Sandburg College's Main Campus in Galesburg. The ceremony was the initial step for the students in a path toward a tuition-free education through Carl Sandburg College and Knox College.
This year's Gale Scholars inductees are: Shelton M. Adcock, Megan D. Anderson, Heather R. Babcock, Kyran M. Blissett, Silvia Chavez, Tre J. Crider, Morghan L. Doan, Telsey K. Furnald, Marcos Garcia, Cierra M. Garza, Secilia L. Gutierrez, Alyssa L. Main, Cody E. McIntyre, Brandon M. Rodriguez and Jorden E. Walters.
Gale Scholars program director Les Hunter told the students the induction is "a ticket to opportunity." Carl Sandburg College President Dr. Lori Sundberg said being chosen for the program was like being handed $100,000 - or the equivalent of a new house, 200 iPads or a new Corvette.
"Your folks will tell you hard work will only get you so far," Sundberg said. "They're right. Education is the game-changer."
Aaron Barton, a 2004 Gale Scholars inductee who will graduate from Knox in June with a bachelor's in environmental studies and a minor in biology, shared his experiences with the program.
"It's taken me down a path I wouldn't want to change for anything," Barton said.
Barton told the students to find a career path they're passionate about, get more involved in the community and challenge themselves.
"Take advantage of the opportunities you're going to have," Barton said. "And you're going to have a lot of those."
Named after the founder of Galesburg and Knox, the program is a collaboration between Knox, Sandburg and Galesburg Public Schools District 205. The Gale Scholars program was created to encourage and support higher education aspirations and success in the target population of academically promising, first-generation and income-eligible youth within District 205. The program was established in 1996 and has been designated a "Best Practice" by the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Illinois Association of School Boards.
Each year up to 15 students are selected for the program, and they participate in summer enrichment and academic preparation, community service and special skill-building experiences. Students who complete the program in high school receive tuition-waiver scholarships toward the completion of associate and bachelor's degree programs at Sandburg and Knox, respectively. Highly academically successful students at Galesburg High School may qualify for direct enrollment to Knox.
Students selected to participate in the Gale Scholars program must have a financial need based upon federal guidelines, be a first-generation college student, demonstrate a commitment to school through a 90 percent attendance rate and have a cumulative grade-point average of at least 2.5. Qualifying students must complete the Gale Scholars application and provide two written recommendations from supportive adults. A selection committee screens applications and finalists are interviewed.
Gale Scholars participants must complete 20 hours of community service each year, be involved in at least two school activities per year, attend summer programs and workshops for academic and leadership enrichment and maintain at least a 2.5 GPA.