Five incoming freshmen who participated in Polk State’s Educational Talent Search Program – some since middle school – have received scholarships from the Polk State Foundation to attend College this upcoming academic year.
Polk State’s Educational Talent Search (ETS) is a free, comprehensive intervention program designed for students from middle school through high school in economically disadvantaged, underrepresented communities. The program, funded through the U.S. Department of Education, provides support for students who exhibit potential and drive to succeed in school, guiding them along their academic journeys through grade school, exploration of higher education and careers with field trips to colleges and universities, and the college admission process.
“We are incredibly proud of our students and wish them the best,” said Daisy Rivera, ETS Academic Advisor. “The majority are first-generation-in-college students, and their parents and families are very proud of them.”
The students awarded Polk State Foundation scholarships this year are Alexis Araujo from Kathleen High School, Jasmin Cortes-Ramirez and Brandon Ives from the Central Florida Aerospace Academy, Leticia Jaime from Polk State Lakeland Collegiate High School, and Rosemary Lopez-Cruz from Fort Meade Middle-Senior High School.
Ives is also a recipient of the Transfer Undergraduate Rural/Nontraditional Student Pathways Through Identity, Knowledge & Engagement (TURNPIKE)-STEM Scholarship for academically promising students with financial need who intend to graduate from Polk State and transfer to the University of South Florida to pursue a bachelor’s degree in STEM. He is pursuing the Polk State Associate in Arts degree with the intent of transferring to study engineering.
“The Educational Talent Search has been a good way for me to strive toward college and the area I am interested in studying,” Ives explained. “Everyone at Polk State has been really welcoming and I am really interested in the TURNPIKE Program because of all the tech, innovation, and camaraderie.”
ETS students are also referred to Polk State’s TRiO Student Support Services, which provides similar support to underrepresented students. The program helps students strengthen and develop their academic, personal, and self-management skills, and provides support as they navigate the academic environment. TRiO also offers opportunities for students to explore higher education and career options, with visits to universities and career events.
“It’s like a family here,” Lopez-Cruz explained about Polk State. The first-generation-in-college student took dual enrollment courses at Polk State while she was in high school. “As the first generation in my family to attend college, the process was a little confusing. The Educational Talent Search guided me through that process and it means a lot to me to have the opportunity to continue my education at Polk State.”