Editorial: New scholarship benefits higher education emphasis

The recent creation of a Baylor/Waco Foundation scholarship fund for a McLennan County high school graduate to attend Baylor is crucial for forming strong ties with the Waco community and encouraging education in our community.

One of the goals of the new scholarship is to form a connection between Baylor and the Waco community — a connection some feel is lacking.

There is little doubt that Baylor is a major partner with the Waco community and seeks to encourage education and progress in Waco schools. Baylor offers tutoring programs such as the Emmanuel Tutorials, mentorship programs such as the Mission Waco Afterschool program and even art programs like the Waco Arts Initiative.

However, despite these programs’ outreach to the younger generation, Baylor remains out of reach for many Waco students for one main reason: cost.

Waco students tend to be at a greater disadvantage when pursuing higher education, simply because they can’t afford it. The city’s poverty rate was at 20.1 percent in 2008 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

That is a little more than 4 percent higher than the Texas average of 15.8 percent. Nationally, the average poverty rate is 13.2 percent.

This scholarship, along with the newly launched President’s Scholarship Initiative — which is looking to raise $100 million — will seek to meet this need head- on.

Statewide budget cuts and tighter personal budgets aren’t making the higher education climb easier for anyone. This new scholarship for a McLennan County graduate is a light in dark times — and needs to be emulated.

If we are to illustrate just how important higher education is ,then the community must begin to personally invest in the youth. Regardless of state or federal funding cuts, our commitment should remain strong.

Scott Rogers, president of the Baylor/Waco Foundation steering committee, told the Lariat he hoped the scholarship would build bridges between Baylor and Waco, and one can only hope that it will serve its purpose.

This scholarship and others like it in the future will accomplish a multifold of tasks.

Such scholarships enable an impoverished community to rise up and change their future and their children’s future through education. It will encourage bright Waco students to attend higher education and send the message that they are worth fighting for.

This scholarship will enrich the Waco community and will link Baylor to this process, as more and more Wacoans will stay in Waco to create a diverse and educated city.

An added bonus: Other Baylor students from around the country might be more likely to stay in Waco if the city had a stronger young professionals base.

Baylor and the City of Waco have successfully reached out to the younger generation in terms of preparation for college, whether it is in providing tutoring or school supplies.

But this scholarship program marks that vital next step that needed to be taken.