State programs seeking mentors for college students

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EAST JACKSON — Students applying for the Tennessee Promise Program will get more than just free education. They are also getting a mentor to help them along the way. The state is recruiting mentors to help graduating seniors transition to college through the Tennessee Promise Drive to 55 Program. “tnAchieves is actually an organization that helps with college completion.” said Andrea Winchester, director of high school initiative and recruitment at Jackson State Community College. “They are a partner for the colleges in the area and a partner for students and parents for college access.” The Tennessee Promise is Governor Bill Haslam’s program to increase the state’s secondary education rates by giving all graduating seniors two free years of community college or a technical program. Mentors are assigned to students to answer questions about applications and motivate them about the road ahead. It’s good to have a mentor to have somebody right behind you knowing that you can have somebody right there telling you,” said Madison Academic High School Student Imani Williams. “You have to do this, just reminding you of what you need to do. I think that’s a good thing to have.” Right now, there are not enough mentors to guide students through the process. So far this year, more than 14,000 students have applied, and 30,000 are expected to sign up in 2015. There are only 2,000 volunteers this year, and officials hope to get that number up to 6,000 by 2015 to accompany the influx of applicants. “There are thousands of mentors needed throughout the state of Tennessee,” said Sara Cooper, Jackson State information analyst and mentor. “We need several hundred just in West Tennessee to deal with the expected influx of students into community colleges and the TCATS.” JSCC employee Sara Cooper said she is excited to serve as a mentor. “When you get to call a student and tell them that they’re eligible for a degree. Hearing that excitement in their voice, there is just nothing that can compare to that,” Cooper said. “So I definitely think the mentors will get a lot out of this program as well.” For more on the Tennessee Promise Program and how to become a mentor, go to our website and click on the “Seen on 7” section of our homepage.

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