Clark State Community College will welcome the inaugural class of Champaign County Scholars and the 14th class of Champion City Scholars with induction ceremonies to be held this week.
The Champaign County Scholars Program will induct 17 students and is modeled after the Champion City Scholars Program, which was initiated by Clark State with Springfield City Schools in 2004.
“We want to be responsive to the specific needs of Champaign County,” said Matthew Ison, manager of the Clark State Scholar Programs. “There will be similar program outcomes–we want students to gain a greater insight into the college process and be successful students.”
Ison said the Champion City Scholars Program had a record number of applicants this year, and 45 qualified students will be inducted into the program.
“This ceremony is one of my favorite events,” he said. “It’s an incredible opportunity to celebrate with students and their families, build momentum for their lives and help them establish an identity as a successful college student.”
The Scholars Programs are participatory programs for middle to high school students that, if successfully completed, result in three years of tuition-free education at Clark State through the efforts of the Clark State Foundation.
Graham Local Schools and Urbana Local Schools piloted the Champaign County Scholars Program with plans to later expand into additional Champaign County districts.
Inductees of both programs are eighth grade students currently enrolled in the Springfield City, Urbana and Graham school districts. Upon graduation from high school, the students will receive up to three years of tuition, books and class fees at no cost to them.
Ison encourages potential future Scholars to continue to work on improving or maintaining their grade point average, to become involved with school activities and uphold good behavior practices.
Urbana University has been a strong partner throughout the Champaign County expansion process, and Clark State is working with them on ways to ensure students in the Champaign County Scholars Program are able to transfer and complete their bachelor’s degree at Urbana University.
Patrick Field, president of Wallace and Turner Insurance in Springfield, and owner of Coppertop Restaurant in Urbana, was instrumental in the development of Champion City Scholars.
“I was raised knowing that education is absolutely paramount for someone to better their community and better themselves,” Field said in a previous statement. “I’ve seen how Champion City Scholars has worked in Springfield and how the community responded to the program; Urbana is a community with a similar need.”
Field has contributed financially to Champion City Scholars and mentored students from the inception of the program. “This is one of the few things in life with no losers,” said Field. “The community wins…parents win, Clark State wins, Urbana University wins.”
Field mentored Champion City Scholars alumnus, Justin Pinn, who will speak at both ceremonies and encourage participants to “find strength in their own story.” Pinn was a member of the first class of Champion City Scholars.
“Being a part of the Champion City Scholars Program allowed me to join a family of people that were specifically invested in my success, but also convinced me to raise the bar because attending college was no longer a doubt or a possibility, but was going to be my reality,” he said. “That fact alone changed my way of thinking and allowed me to expect greater of myself.”
Pinn now holds a bachelor’s of English and government from Georgetown University, a Master of Science in educational studies/secondary from Johns Hopkins University and is currently working on his Doctorate of Education in organizational learning and leadership at Barry University.
“My current career path involves giving kids the type of opportunities that the Champion City Scholars Program gave me,” said Pinn. “I am an education non-profit executive and community leader in Miami, Florida.”
Pinn wants the new inductees to know that Champion City and Champaign County Scholars programs recognized something special in each of them, and the “idea” of attending college is now inevitable.
“As a recipient of the first Champion City Scholar awards, I owe a debt that I can never repay because the program is responsible for my success today,” said Pinn. “As I advocate for after-school programs at the White House, Congress and the Florida state legislature, I am able to be a champion for kids throughout the country because someone was first my champion, the Champion City Scholars Program and Patrick Fields.”
The Champion City Scholars induction ceremony and luncheon will be held at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, October 31 at the Hollenbeck Bayley Creative Arts and Conference Center, 275 South Limestone Street in downtown Springfield.
The Champaign County Scholars induction ceremony and luncheon will be held at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, November 1 at Urbana University Student Center, 579 College Way, Urbana, Ohio.