Fifty-eight Bibb County students now have a big incentive to keep their grades up: $10,000.
They are recipients of the Newton and Sara Anderson Scholarship for Excellence, created by brothers John and Bob Anderson in memory of their parents and awarded through the Community Foundation of Central Georgia. The students were honored during a reception at the Dr. Robert J. Williams Complex in Macon on Wednesday afternoon.
The Anderson brothers — graduates of Lanier High School, which is now Central High — donated $600,000 for the one-time scholarship program, which awards the selected students $5,000 for their freshman year of college and another $5,000 for sophomore year.
“It’s a culmination of all the hard work I’ve done over the years,” said scholarship recipient Joseph Awoyeye, a senior who will study biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech this fall. “It’s really going to help us in college and our futures.”
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Current ninth- through 12th-graders in Bibb County public schools were eligible to apply for the award earlier this year if they had a minimum 3.3 cumulative grade-point average and no out-of-school suspensions during their high school career.
Students have to maintain their grades and stay on their best behavior to get the scholarship after they graduate from high school. Once they’re in college, they must continue to meet academic qualifications to receive funding for the second year. Students who don’t meet the standards will lose their chance, and alternate students will be selected.
“To continue to learn, to continue to educate yourselves will enrich your lives, your marriages, the quality of your experiences and especially your potential as individuals and citizens of this great land more than you will ever realize,” John Anderson told the scholarship recipients.
The cohort format of the scholarships will help turn around Bibb County’s public schools and combat the dropout problem, he said. It will help this year’s seniors and also serve as an incentive for younger students to keep up their good work, Bob Anderson said.
Kathryn Dennis, president of the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, said the scholarship will help bridge the achievement gap from ninth to 12th grades.
Fifteen seniors and 43 underclassmen were chosen for the award, and the seniors were each given a copy of the book “Make Your Bed” by William McRaven. The remaining scholars will convene each spring and receive a copy of the book when they are in 12th grade.
Afnan Khan, a Central senior who will start pre-med studies at Emory University, said it’s an honor to receive an award that’s so selective. The money will help relieve the financial burden of college for his family.