This week the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation kicked off the annual Scholarship Shawnee Mission Program by surprising more than 1900 seniors in the Shawnee Mission School District with scholarship offers.
“It makes me feel so good to know I have so many opportunities I didn’t know about,” shared SM Northwest senior Omar Gonzalez Anavisca.
Currently in its third year, the Scholarship Shawnee Mission program connects Shawnee Mission students to scholarship opportunities, explained Kim Hinkle, executive director of the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation.
“We believe that bright and hardworking students should be recruited by colleges, in much the same ways as student athletes. Through Scholarship Shawnee Mission, they are,” noted Hinkle.
As part of the program, parents opt in to share their student’s data with participating colleges and universities. The schools make scholarship offers to students who match their admissions and scholarship criteria. This year, 45 colleges and universities participated in the program, offering a total of 45,765 scholarships to Shawnee Mission seniors.
The scholarship announcements were made at assemblies in the gymnasium at each Shawnee Mission High School. After receiving their offers, students were encouraged to visit with college representatives who were set up at stations lining the gymnasiums.
“I think this is a great opportunity for students to see what’s out there,” expressed SM South principal Todd Dain. “A lot of students, even at this stage as seniors, are undecided on where they’re going. Today they can have conversations with college representatives about real possibilities. It’s also a great opportunity for the colleges to reach students they may not see otherwise. It’s really a win-win,” he added.
Watching students be surprised with their scholarship offers was the best part of the day, shared counselor Lucy Coopman. “Especially for those kids who do have financial need, it’s been heartwarming to see them realize ‘yes, college probably is possible for me.’”
Karen Gutierrez, SM South senior exclaimed, “It feels super amazing to receive these scholarships! Coming from an immigrant family and being the first generation to graduate high school, it feels really good. My family is going to be so proud and happy for me.”
SM South senior Graciela Alburran-Bautista expressed her gratitude to the district and the Foundation for opening doors and expanding possibilities after high school.
“Thank you to the Foundation for giving me and all students this opportunity. I’ll be the first in my family to go to college. This is a big deal,” she shared.
Reflecting on the positive impact the program makes, Board of Education member Jamie Borgman stated, “I’m so proud of the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation for being a trailblazer in this space and for giving our SMSD students this gift.”