Inspiring & Educating Benefits Galesburg Youth
April 20, 2017
By Adriana Colindres
The George Washington Gale Scholars Program, a collaborative partnership involving Knox College, Carl Sandburg College, and Galesburg School District 205, reflects the Galesburg educational community's commitment to working together and providing opportunities for young people.
Established in 1996, the Gale Scholars Program offers a path to a free college education for academically promising first-generation and income-eligible students in District 205.
Every year, up to 15 eighth-graders are selected for the program, which includes academic enrichment, community service, and leadership and other skill-building experiences. These opportunities are provided throughout the eight years of each student's involvement in the program.
Students who successfully meet the program's requirements through their high school years are awarded tuitionwaiver scholarships for college—toward completion of an associate's degree at Carl Sandburg College and then a bachelor's degree at Knox College. Gale Scholars with an exceptional academic record at Galesburg High School may qualify for direct enrollment at Knox.
The program came under new leadership with the 2015 selection of Steve Cheesman '80, a first-generation college student, as director. Representatives from District 205, Carl Sandburg, and Knox work with him to set guidelines for the program and ensure student success.
In recent years, the Gale Scholars Program has reached some notable milestones.
- In 2016, all 15 Gale Scholars who were selected four years earlier graduated from Galesburg High School, and two of them qualified for direct enrollment at Knox College.
- Since 2010, a total of 23 Gale Scholars have earned bachelor's degrees from Knox.
- Five Gale Scholars are on track to receive bachelor's degrees from Knox in 2017.
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"Education gives you more opportunities in life to have a chance at being successful and happy," Cheesman says. "The Gale Scholars Program is the finest program that I have ever seen for making the educational dream possible for a bunch of terrific students and young people. I am so proud to be a part of it. It is fantastic in all ways!"
Chris Carpenter, a 2009 Knox College graduate who successfully completed the Gale Scholars Program, shares a similar view. He says the program "got me laser-focused on college."
"I was a pretty good student, but GWGS got me to be motivated by school," adds Carpenter, now a teacher at Lombard Middle School in Galesburg. "It also gave me a deep appreciation of my community and the opportunity I was blessed with."
The program provided him with support, friends, materials such as calculators, and access to counselors who were always ready to assist, he says. It also had an impact on his career choice.
"It was through experiences of this program which led me down a path toward education to give back for the opportunity I was granted," Carpenter says. "I use the Gale Scholars Program constantly in my class to show students what experiences and opportunities they can take advantage of. I tell them that if I can graduate from college with no one graduating from high school in my family, so can they."