By Sara Tirrito
In keeping with its mission of providing a bridge between Baylor and the local community, the Baylor/Waco Foundation has begun fundraising for an endowed scholarship to be awarded to a McLennan County high school graduate beginning in the fall of 2012.
This will be the first scholarship created by the foundation.
“Primarily, we really want to serve as the bridge between Waco and Baylor and there’s no better way to do that other than providing opportunities for kids from the Waco area to be able to go to school at Baylor,” Scott Rogers, president of the Baylor/Waco Foundation steering committee, said. “I think that scholarship will play an integral role in doing that.”
This project also ties into the President’s Scholarship Initiative, announced in September, which set forth a goal of boosting the university’s scholarship funds by $100 million by the conclusion of the 2013 fiscal year.
The goal for the Baylor/Waco Foundation endowed scholarship is $50,000, which is the amount required to establish such a scholarship. Donations can be mailed or given online by both individuals and businesses.
Amber Adamson, director of the Baylor/Waco Foundation, said the community has been receptive to the project.
“When you talk about the need of students, there’s nothing more important in a university setting than the students, and I think that tugs at people’s heartstrings more than any other project we could do,” Adamson said.
Even after the $50,000 goal is met, Rogers said he believes the foundation will choose to continue adding funds to the scholarship throughout the years.
“I think there’s a pretty good chance that, going forward, some percentage of our annual fundraising would go toward the scholarship to increase that year after year and continue to provide more funds,” Rogers said. “Our goal is certainly to grow the scholarship over time.”
Adamson said designating the scholarship to a high school graduate of McLennan County was important to the steering committee because committee members feel that keeping a strong tie to the community is important.
“I think that it’s important for the committee to feel that they’re giving local students the opportunity to stay in Waco, to be educated in Waco and then perhaps to find a home and to stay here after they graduate and be contributing citizens to our community,” Adamson said. “There’s kind of this gap of college-age students who move off and then come back in their early 30s and late 30s and raise a family, but that kind of young professional group is missing and so this may be a way for us to retain some of our brightest and best students and keep them here and show them that Baylor and Waco care about their contribution to our community.”
Amarillo senior Sam Moore was chosen as the first student representative to sit on the committee for the Baylor/Waco Foundation last semester.
The position has shown him the opportunities that are available locally and has allowed him to make connections in the community.
“It’s been amazing because I’ve actually been able to see a lot more about Waco,” Moore said. “It’s helped expand my knowledge of what actually goes on in Waco. I had no idea the industry that’s actually in this town before I started the committee.”
Moore said he has noticed a disconnect between Baylor and the community because often students can’t find the opportunities they need locally and the community can’t find the students to take the available opportunities. However, the foundation’s goal is to help connect the university with the community, and Moore said he believes the creation of the endowed scholarship will be a step forward that can make a significant difference to an area student.
Through tutoring at a local school, Moore has seen sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders who automatically turn down the suggestion of attending Baylor because they know their families can’t afford the cost.
“I was amazed by that and frightened by that. If you want to go to college, it shouldn’t be out of reach,” Moore said. “Any of those students that have the aspirations or the dreams to go to college. If we can help those aspirations to come true, that’s what matters to me and that’s what our organization is all about.”