Belmont To Offer 25 MNPS Students Full Scholarships - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Belmont To Offer 25 MNPS Students Full Scholarships

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by Aundrea Cline-Thomas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Nashville Metro Public Schools have been on Spring Break, but the dream of going to college woke these Maplewood and Stratford High School students up early on Tuesday morning. 

"I want to be the first person in my family to graduate from college," said Stratford High School 11th Grader Anthony Teap.

"Every day since the fifth grade it's been a goal of mine," Maplewood High School 11th grader, Yahnitia Constant said about her dream to attend college.

They went to class hoping to improve their ACT scores.

"My mom had passed recently. All she wanted me to do is to succeed. And now I'm really striving to do that," Constant said.

Even with good grades and a  high ACT score, the cost puts the dream of attending college out of reach for many high poverty students.

"It's time for us to either put up or shut up about being a part of changing our community and transforming our public schools," Belmont University President Bob Fisher said.

Belmont University decided to step in by offering 25 full scholarships for Maplewood and Stratford High School students. The average tuition for an undergraduate student, including room and board, is about $37,000.

Principals at both schools said they are considering students' grades, ACT scores and will conduct interviews to select the first class.

"I believe all kids can learn at levels that can make them successful at a place like Belmont," Fisher said.  

It is a pilot program called "Bridges to Belmont" that gives hard working students mainly coming from high poverty communities a chance.

In addition to the scholarship, students will also participate in a summer program and get additional support that helps with their college transition.

"I was struggling to find a way to pay for college, and I didn't think I would be able to go because of college expenses, but being able to go to Belmont if I do get it, it would give me the opportunity of my life," said Stratford Senior A-Reonna Patton who has applied to the program.

"Bridges to Belmont" is an extra incentive for students to work hard, getting them one step closer to making their dreams a reality.

"I want to have a sense of pride in knowing I made it when no one else in my family could," Teap said about going to college.

"If I could go to college free that would be dream come true," said Constant.

The goal is to eventually expand the program to other Metro schools in the future.

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