By Bob Fowler, Roane State staff writer
The tradition of funding scholarships for Middle College students enrolled in Roane State Community College’s innovative program is going strong and continues to help participants reach long-term goals.
A $34,000 annual contribution from UT-Battelle helps cover tuition and other costs for students from Roane County’s five high schools to attend Middle College. This year, 57 Roane County students are enrolled in the curriculum.
UT-Battelle is the contractor that manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory, located in Roane County, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Middle College, now in its sixth year, is a two-year program for high-achieving high school students who want to get a head start on college.
High school juniors enrolled in Middle College take college courses at one of Roane State’s campuses in the mornings and return to their respective high schools in the afternoons. That way, they can graduate from high school at the same time they earn an associate degree from Roane State. Graduates can then transfer to other colleges and enroll as juniors.
“This is yet another resource for students to be able to advance,” said Alan Icenhour, the lab’s deputy director for operations. “It’s a very impactful program with a dedicated staff.”
Chris Whaley, president of Roane State, said ORNL “stepped in at the very beginning (of Middle College) in a very significant way.” Middle College was launched in 2015.
Whaley said numerous Middle College alumni have benefited from UT-Battelle’s annual contributions since then. Some Middle College graduates are now working at the national lab, he said. “I’m so grateful for the lab’s participation,” Whaley said.
Because of Middle College, “it feels like I’m ahead in my academics, and I’m striving to do that,” said Emma McDonald, one of five Roane County Middle College students who attended a recent ceremony in recognition of the $34,000 contribution.
“I like the freedom of it,” Mason Edwards, also a Roane County High School student, said of Middle College. “I like being treated like an adult.”
Susan Pearson, interim director of the Middle College program at Roane State, said this year’s Middle College class has 174 students from 17 area high schools as well as several homeschooled students.
Scott Niermann, executive director of the Roane State Foundation, said the foundation manages and allocates contributions. He said UT-Battelle is one of many businesses and organizations that generously contribute regularly to benefit Roane State students.
The Roane State Foundation is a separate 501(c)(3) corporation governed by an independent board of directors and established to provide financial support for Roane State students and programs. The Foundation seeks to enhance community awareness of the college, to secure private contributions and bequests and to manage monies or properties given to the Foundation. For more information, visit roanestate.edu/foundation or email [email protected].
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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