Hendrix adds partners to Aspire scholarship program

Nancy Rousseau, principal of Little Rock Central High School, and Bill Tsutsui, president of Hendrix College, sign a commitment that includes the high school in the Hendrix Aspire Scholarship program. AUM PHOTO BY AMY FORBUS

Nancy Rousseau, principal of Little Rock Central High School, and Bill Tsutsui, president of Hendrix College, sign a commitment that includes the high school in the Hendrix Aspire Scholarship program.
AUM PHOTO BY AMY FORBUS

LITTLE ROCK—Hendrix College on Oct. 5 finalized agreements that will give more Federal Pell Grant-eligible students from the Little Rock area the means to pursue their undergraduate education at the United Methodist-related college in Conway.

The Hendrix Aspire Scholarship program is designed to help level the playing field for those who may be restricted by the cost of higher education, said the college’s president, Dr. Bill Tsutsui, at the event held in the Darragh Center of the Little Rock Public Library’s main campus. Tsutsui and leaders of the Arkansas Commitment program, Catholic High School for Boys, Little Rock Central High School and Mount St. Mary Academy signed memoranda of understanding at the conclusion of the gathering.

Aspire Scholarships will cover the full cost of attending Hendrix, including tuition, fees, on-campus housing and meal plans—and, in some cases, even textbooks and other expenses—for up to four students from each program. The college also will provide academic support services to ensure the recipients graduate in four years.

“Hendrix has been a social escalator for this state and this region, giving a foot up to generations of students who went on to become physicians and lawyers, ministers and teachers, accountants and executives, artists and activists,” Tsutsui said. “Now more than ever, we need to keep fulfilling this role, and to do even more to open our gates—and our pocketbook—to all the deserving, striving students out there.”

Hendrix already had partnered with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) to provide scholarships for Latino and Latina students; and with KIPP Delta Public Schools to provide scholarships for students from the Arkansas Delta. The first students from those partnerships arrived on campus this semester. The additional partnerships were made possible in part by alumni and donor gifts, including the recent $26 million gift from the estate of Mary Ann Dawkins announced in August (and in the Sept. 4 issue of the Arkansas United Methodist).

“Adding a single first-generation college graduate to a family significantly increases the prospects of a better life for its members for generations to come,” said David Knight, chair of the Hendrix board of trustees. “So congratulations to all of the organizations here today for coming together to provide opportunity and hope for some very fortunate young Arkansans.”

“I commend Hendrix College for strategically developing relationships not only with high schools, but also with community-based organizations such as ours,” said Jason Hamilton, executive director of Arkansas Commitment, a nonprofit organization created to identify academically talented African-American high school students throughout central Arkansas and guide them to become leaders of society at large and within the African-American community.

“To think that we would be able to send qualified students to a college as prestigious as Hendrix and graduate with a great education and very little or no debt, to me, that’s just wonderful,” said Nancy Rousseau, principal of Little Rock Central High School.