Free Education for Minorities - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/8/04 - Tyler

Free Education for Minorities

The Faulconer Scholarship Program this year will award for the first time 30 five-year scholarships to black and Hispanic students. They can use the money toward an education at Tyler Junior College and then a Texas university of their choice.

A scholarship has special meaning for Chastala Kennedy. The 20-year-old is finishing her last semester at TJC and she says she will be the first person in her family to get a college degree. Chastala won the Faulconer Scholarship two years ago.

"It meant a lot," Chastala said. "Financially, I was like, this is good. I'm going to be able to go through school and really focus on studying."

Currently working as a security guard part-time, Chastala says her passion is criminal justice. Strong academics and leadership potential are some of the qualities the Faulconer selection committee saw in her.

"We're really interested in students who want very badly to succeed and are willing to work hard to do it," Ron Gleason, program director, said.

The Faulconer Scholarship doesn't just provide financial support. A team of advisers meets with students one-on-one to give them career advice and to pair them up with mentors in their field.

"I think the richness of this program is in the relationships," Gleason said. "Just sending a check wouldn't be too much fun."

The Faulconer Program connected Chastala with Lupe Saucedo, a probation officer with the Smith County Corrections Department. Lupe was also a Faulconer Scholarship winner.. He spent two years at TJC and graduated from UT-Tyler, also studying criminal justice.

"I'm giving her some tips or some ideas into what the field that I'm in, what it's like, what's involved in the field, what the requirements are, and giving her some tips on how to be successful in college," Lupe said.

Now, Lupe is working on his masters degree. As for Chastala, she plans to go on to a university in Texas and perhaps one day, follow in the footsteps of Lupe.

If you're interested in applying for the Faulconer Scholarship, you still have time. To be eligible, you must be black or Hispanic and graduating from a high school within the TJC tax district. The deadline is March 1. For more information, click on the "Know More on 7" icon on the homepage. There you'll find a link to the Faulconer Scholarship website.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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