Scholarship program to open doors

It’s October — you’re applying for colleges yet you’re only applying to ones you’ll be able to afford with money saved up, financial aid and any scholarship money you could get. The idea of living on your own and having to support yourself plagues your mind with thoughts like “it’s too expensive.” Yet, starting with the Class of 2019 those thoughts may be old news.

During a citywide presentation Stockton’s Mayor Michael Tubbs announced a $20 million project that would help send students in the Stockton Unified School District to college. Tubbs refers to the program as Stockton Scholars. After announcing it, Tubbs took to Twitter and said “10 years ago, I was stressed out, trying to pay for college.” His stress from 10 years ago is what motivated him to make sure students would go beyond a high school education.

Stockton Scholars is committed to give those who will be attending a four-year university $1,000 for each year they attend school, and $500 for those attending a community college or trade school.

During the presentation, junior Gene Lewis had the opportunity to be on stage with Tubbs while he announced his program. Lewis said when first arriving at the seminar he thought it was going to be boring and just a bunch of paper signing for college yet, after hearing Tubbs’ announcement his mood changed.

“It’s really going to help put a lot of people,” Lewis said. “It’s going to take the cost off you and your parents.”

Lewis went on to say that he is planning on going to college after he graduates but he feared how he would pay for it. Now with the Stockton Scholars program he’s not as worried. Lewis explained that a lot of people he knows weren’t planning on going to college due to the cost, but now the program could change their mind.

“You look at a $1,000 and don’t think of it much,” Lewis said. “But over four years it could really help with paying for at least books.”

Lange Luntao, SUSD board clerk, said that he and Tubbs have been working on this for a while, almost seven years. “We want students to know that their community is here for them,” Luntao said.

He explained that the program should take off the following June when the class of 2019 graduates. Some of the requirements are still being worked out, according to Luntao, but as of right now he says things like being a resident of Stockton and going to a public school. He says the GPA requirement might change but as of right now the minimum is a 2.0. Luntao said that before applying for the Stockton Scholars students must submit a form for FAFSA and apply for two other scholarships.

“This is just the start,” Luntao said. “Hopefully we could reach $100 million and help more students in Stockton.”

The money is here for the students but it’s up to them to push through high school so that they are able to use it, Luntao said.

Lewis said that Tubbs’ favorite line to use is “Did you hear about the rose that grew from the crack in the concrete?”

This program is hoping to help these roses grow.