It takes a COMMUNITY and SCHOLARSHIP to create a productive pathway for college-bound students with financial needs

wkctc karess hoskins colorPaducah Bank has donated $150,000 to the community scholarship Program

McCracken County High School 2015 graduate Karess Hoskins could hardly hold back her tears as she described how much the support from the Community Scholarship Program meant to her.

A first-generation college student at West Kentucky Community and Technical College, Hoskins was one of more than 150 Community Scholarship Program students, family, friends, and supporters who attended a luncheon recognizing students and supporters of the program.

“Thank you to the donors for giving students like me the opportunity to attend college tuition-free,” said the 18-year-old Hoskins who plans to pursue a career in radiology. “To not have to worry about having to pay for college allows us to focus on selecting a major and getting good grades.”

Hoskins’ parents, Kenny and Mary Hoskins, said receiving a community scholarship was the reason their daughter is able to go to college. “It’s so wonderful,” said Mary Hoskins. “Without it (the CSP scholarship), we would never have been able to send her.” Her father agreed. “It’s a blessing. It really helped out a whole lot. I’m really proud of people helping out like this; it will help others too,” he said.

The Community Scholarship Program provides scholarship funding for up to 60 credit hours toward a technical certification and/or an associate degree at WKCTC. The Rotary Club of Paducah initiated the idea for the CSP as a public-private partnership with strong participation from the Rotary, the City of Paducah, McCracken County Fiscal Court, partnering high schools, WKCTC, Paducah Bank, and several local businesses and companies. Students at a participating Paducah or McCracken County high school or homeschool within McCracken County are eligible for the program as long as they meet certain criteria. The inaugural CSP class began at WKCTC in fall 2014 with 216 students. Many of those students will have graduated from the college beginning in May 2015.

Hoskins said she is striving to be a positive influence on others. “I’m trying to be the best role model to the ones who look up to me. For my nieces and nephews, I want them to know that when things get difficult, I will be there for them, encouraging and supporting them,” Hoskins said. “And they need to know there are other people who are ready to assist them when things get difficult in life.”

Ashley Wright, WKCTC Vice President of Institutional Advancement, said one of the most rewarding things about the Community Scholarship Program is the continued support of the community. “It’s a commitment to these students that regardless of what their personal and professional aspirations may be, they will not have to put it on hold because of financial barriers,” Wright said.

“We cannot make that commitment without our donors,” added Wright. “We are so grateful. Paducah Bank believed in the vision of the Community Scholarship Program and what it could do for Paducah and McCracken County from the very beginning. They became one of the first businesses to financially support this initiative and have been committed to the scholarship’s purpose of increasing the percentage of McCracken County students that transition from high school to post-secondary education. Today we know that students who participate in the Community Scholarship Program are staying enrolled in college, earning a higher GPA than their non-CSP peers, and earning more college credit each semester. This success is due to the businesses and organizations that stepped up in the beginning before we could have envisioned these results. Paducah Bank is always looking toward the future of this community, and their support of the Community Scholarship Program is evidence of their commitment to the next generation of Paducah and McCracken County.”