West Rusk Superintendent: Five students still headed to ETBU - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

West Rusk Superintendent: Five students still headed to ETBU


An East Texas business is stepping up to help some high school graduates who were promised scholarships to attend college.

Wednesday, the deadline for East Texas Baptist University to receive the scholarship money promised to West Rusk High School graduates officially passed. The university said even in the final hours, they never heard from the Houston benefactor.

But late Wednesday, Fenton Motor Group pledged to make a one-time donation of $100,000 to help cover some of the tuition for the sixteen students.

"We feel that they deserve the opportunity to pursue their dreams and they're ready and geared up," said Fenton E-Commerce Director Cassidy Parker. "We're excited to be able to help."

The announcement came just one day after Matthew Nehrling of Longview decided to take action into his own hands, working with ETBU to set up a donation account where the public could chip in. Parents hope that the move will help lessen the burden for some of the families that were not expecting to be paying tuition at all.

"He said, hey, I want to help, I want to do whatever I can," said ETBU VP of Advancement Catherine Crawford. "This is a guy out of nowhere that said I want to step up to the plate."

ETBU also announced Wednesday that over $125,000 in financial aid has been awarded to fifteen of the sixteen students—a total of over $8,000 per student for their freshman year.

But even with that aid, students still need to come up with over $19,000 for the entire school year.

"That's a lot of money," said West Rusk parent Daelynn Williams. "But if you look at it as 30,000 people donate a dollar, that's not that much. Every small amount that can be donated can add up and that will make a huge difference."

"These kids need all the help, not just financially but the moral support we can give them," Crawford said. "When they see people doing this, it's got to be very encouraging for them and their families."

Turning what was originally a let-down into yet another blessing.

"God has a plan with all of this," Williams said. "Maybe his plan all along was to just see how much the community would back them and allow people to be blessed by allowing them to bless someone else."

Fenton Motor Group said the $100,000 donation is just to cover costs for the fall semester and to help the students get started.

They said they hope other community members will also step up to help.

Wednesday night, after the Fenton donation, West Rusk Superintendent Tommy Alexander said in a statement that five of the seniors plan to continue their enrollment at ETBU, and ten more will attend Kilgore College. According to that statement, Dr. Bill Holda, President of Kilgore College, has offered to honor previous scholarship aide promised during the spring semester, and has offered a discount to the seniors as well.

"I have always believed that everything happens for a reason," Alexander said in the statement. "Sometimes, it may be hard to fully understand that reason. But, this I do know: five West Rusk 2013 graduating seniors plan to attend ETBU this fall; and it would not surprise me if several of their classmates join them at ETBU after attending Kilgore College or another college for a year or so. None of that would have happened if they had not visited and toured the ETBU campus on July 11, 2013." 

If you would like to make a donation to the West Rusk fund at ETBU, you can find information here.

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