As a gymnasium full of Shawnee Mission West students prepared to receive scholarship offers through Scholarship Shawnee Mission, their principal offered them some wisdom.
“Don’t close any doors of opportunity and ask lots of questions,” advised principal Steve Loe. Soon after, students opened personally-addressed letters, written to them as a way to open doors for their future.
One of the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation’s premier programs, Scholarship Shawnee Mission works to match high school students with college scholarship offers before they’ve even applied to those schools.
“We want to connect our students with opportunities,” explained Kim Hinkle, executive director of the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation. “Many of our juniors and seniors are uncertain about their future paths. We hope the scholarship offers they receive today help open the door to options they may not have known existed.”
With permission from parents, participating colleges and universities receive information about individual students. That information is used to make decisions about students to whom college and university recruiters want to offer scholarships. Each student receives a letter informing them of the scholarship amounts being offered.
High school students receive their offers during an event organized in their school gymnasium, where representatives from each of the participating colleges and universities are present to provide more information to students.
“It’s especially nice having the schools here today so we can talk to them directly,” expressed Lily Chalfie, SM Northwest senior. “I haven’t heard of some of these colleges, and it’s exciting they’re interested in me. It’s great because I can go back, do some research and find out more about them.”
This year, 45 colleges and post-secondary institutions competed for Shawnee Mission students by participating in the Scholarship Shawnee Mission program.
Claire Hollis, assistant director of admission at Benedictine College, believes the program is beneficial for both the students and colleges.
“For us, it’s a great chance to meet these students in person. For the students, I think it helps them to learn more about their opportunities, especially financially,” shared Hollis. “When it comes to college that’s often the biggest hurdle that students see. Being able to talk to them about what it will cost and what we can discount for them through these scholarships can help them overcome those hurdles.”
SM North senior Jack Coddington was looking forward to sharing news of his scholarship offers with family.
“It’s a great feeling,” shared Coddington. “I’m the youngest of three and they’ve already had two other kids go through college. I think my parents are going to be really pleased.”
As Scholarship Shawnee Mission marks its fifth year, the program’s future looks bright. The program continues to evolve and expand in an effort to provide students with more opportunity. The list of participating higher education institutions and scholarship offer amounts continues to grow. This year, the program presented more than $3 billion in scholarship offers to students and it shows no sign of slowing down.
“Whatever path our students choose, we want them to thrive,” shared Hinkle. “Being able to show our students that their hard work has paid off by connecting them to these scholarships and post-secondary opportunities is a joy.”