Two hundred eighty-two Aldine ISD seniors received the opportunity to continue their academic careers by receiving either Aldine Education Foundation (AEF) or Aldine Scholarship Fund (ASF) scholarships during an awards ceremony this spring at the M.O. Campbell Educational Center.
AEF incorporated in 2012 to enable more Aldine ISD students to receive financial support for colleges of their choice, to award grants to educators for innovative instructional programs and to recognize and reward excellence in educators and students.
ASF, now under the direction of the Lone Star College Foundation, has a permanent endowment totaling more than $2 million, which sends AISD students to Lone Star College.
During the ceremony, AEF awarded 147 scholarships and 135 AISD seniors received ASF scholarships. The scholarships awarded this year totaled $573,000. That’s an increase of 31 scholarships from the 2017-18 school year.
“Because of significant support from Noble Drilling, this is the third consecutive year AEF was able to award a four-year, $20,000 scholarship to a graduate from each of Aldine ISD’s high schools,” said AEF Director Michele McGovern. “Additionally, the amazing support of Aldine ISD staff through payroll deductions funded $98,000 in scholarship funds for 26 students.”
Prior to the awarding of the scholarships, Aldine ISD Superintendent Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney delivered the Superintendent’s Challenge to this year’s scholarship recipients.
“You have done so much to get yourselves here – skipped social events to study, stayed after school to work on projects, all the things that it takes to meet your goals,” she said. “It is those traits – hard work, determination, and sacrifice that make you a true scholar and those same traits will suit you well as you go into the next chapter of life.”
She also challenged the scholarship recipients to embrace this next chapter in their lives.
“Try things you have never tried before, go places you have never been before and take full advantage of the opportunities presented to you,” Dr. Goffney said. “You have somewhat of a head start. The scholarships you received here are deposits literally into your ‘future’ bank. Don’t waste it.”
McGovern then introduced former scholarship recipients Gabrielle Harrison and Kitzia Soto who encouraged this year’s recipients to take full advantage of the opportunity that is before them.
Harrison, a 2014 AEF recipient and graduate of Aldine High School, earned her degree from Texas A&M University and is now a college advisor at Nimitz High School. Receiving an AEF scholarship was the jumpstart she needed to pursue a college degree.
“The AEF scholarship, among others, made going to college even more of a reality,” she said. “The scholarship made me feel like there were people out there who believed in me and wanted me to be as successful as possible in furthering my education.”
Harrison encouraged this year’s recipients to set goals and to believe in themselves.
“You will do great things and accomplish anything you set your mind to,” Harrison said. “Like many of you, I was a first generation college graduate, and if anyone asked me what my hopes and dreams were 15 years ago, graduating from college would not have been on that list. So, I will leave you with this, when you are pulling all-nighters or you might feel like giving up, remember that Aldine ISD and Aldine Education Foundation want each and everyone one of you to succeed.”
Soto, a 2013 AEF recipient and graduate of MacArthur High School, is also a Texas A&M graduate. She currently serves as an AmeriCorps Members for Texas A&M and works with seniors at Eisenhower High School to assist them in applying for scholarships.
“I am responsible for the futures of 542 students, and to this day I remind myself of that,” she said. “Students come into my office for the first time and have to trust a person they have never met before. I cannot tell you how many times I have sat in my office crying after reading a student’s essay; essays about homelessness, foster care, bullying and medical conditions. These kids are perceived in a negative light just because of where they grew up or what high school they attended, but in reality they are just like anyone else trying to break barriers – whether it be through academics, community involvement or social media.”
Soto closed by reminding this year’s scholarship recipients of the wonderful opportunity they have been afforded.
“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be your college adviser, to be the shoulder you can cry on, but more importantly, thank you for making a commitment to higher education. Remember, you are our future. This won’t be easy, but it will be worth it,” she said.
AEF Present-Elect Pastor David Smith delivered the welcome and introduced special guests. Dr. Gerald Napoles, president of Lone Star College-North Harris delivered remarks on behalf of the college and Abel Garza, assistant superintendent of community and governmental relations with Aldine ISD and AEF Director Michele McGovern presented this year’s scholarship recipients. Saul Valentin, chairman of the board of the Long Star College Foundation, delivered closing remarks.
Approximately 1,000 people attended the event to celebrate these students’ successes.