Little graduates getting a big opportunity in Camden

Katherine Scott Image
Friday, June 22, 2018
Little graduates getting a big opportunity in Camden
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Little graduates getting a big opportunity in Camden. Katherine Scott reports during Action News at 6 p.m. on June 22, 2018.

CAMDEN, N.J. (WPVI) -- Their red caps and gowns come among the smallest of sizes, their feet don't even touch the floor.

These Pre-K graduates of Early Learning Research Academy at Rutgers-Camden were on stage, marking their first of many educational milestones.

5-year-old Julia shared,"I'm going to kindergarten. Then I'm going to graduate. Because I'm going to grow up."

They may be little, but they have big plans for what they want to be. They piped up with career ambitions including scientists, veterinarians, and even at least one child hopeful to be a princess.

But first comes their education. 90 of these students are heading to LEAP Academy University Charter School and have a chance for a tuition-paid scholarship to Rutgers.

The students inducted into the Alfredo Santiago Endowed Scholarship Program must maintain a good attendance record and 3.5 GPA for the chance of college tuition. The program was established to increase the number of Camden children who attend college. They also get the encouragement they need along the way.

ELRA Director Stephanie Weaver-Rogers explains: "Because of the community we are in, so many think they can't achieve this. And so them knowing from 2 years old you can go to college - it's possible - we're going to help you go. They believe it their entire life. It's ingrained in them."

Some of these families explain that knowing tuition is there waiting, helps them shift their focus off the financial burden.

Father Kay Jones tells us,"It makes us focus more on their academics while they're in the program."

For mother Arita Copes, "It will give them the drive to perform at their best. And it will give them the motivation to know that what they're working hard for- there will be a prize at the end."


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