25 local students awarded scholarship to further education

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Dozens of students from local high schools were given a chance to further their education on Tuesday. The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce awarded 25 students the "Accelerate Greater Charleston Scholarship" to Trident Technical College.

For many students it's a dream come true.

"Before the scholarship I was just going to join the military and do my 20 years and retire," said one recipient, Destin Jackson.

Jackson is a senior at Ashley Ridge High School and wanted to go to college. But that decision revolved around money. The questions were answered when Jackson learned he was a recipient of the scholarship.

"This scholarship gave me something I really wanted – it gave me a chance. It gave me hope to higher my education and fulfill my dream," Jackson said.

This year the scholarship was awarded to 25 students – all from local high schools in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties. The students will get $1,000 each semester, or $2,000 per year.

"It's just an incredible opportunity to know that we're helping some students to really change their pathway for their lives," Mary Graham, with the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, said.

Since its inception four years ago, the scholarship has created the opportunity for 127 students to pursue higher education at Trident Tech.

There have been questions, however, about the money the 2016 recipients will receive – because that's changing.

"We were helping the students qualify for financial aid, and then whatever gap there was in those dollars versus the cost of total tuition, we were providing that last dollar. So we have switched to $1,000 – which goes into their account here at Trident and they can use it how they want to. And so it's really a better opportunity for students to be able to cover whatever costs they need to cover to be able to fill in those gaps," Graham added.

There were 75 students awarded the scholarship last year – who's scholarships will change to the $1,000 per semester, rather than what they had left. For some students that will be less than what they have previously gotten.

In terms of the scholarship changing in the future…

"We are learning. Trident Tech has never had this many scholarships awarded from one entity. The chamber is learning, Trident Tech is learning. So we'll continue to tweak to make sure we're doing the right thing for the students. We want them to succeed. And so every semester we evaluate what has happened and how we can make it better," Graham said.

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