Alyssa Monroe, a senior at Kiowa County High School, was announced Tuesday by Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) as one of five Kenneth M. Smith Scholars nationwide who will receive $10,000 toward their college education.
The scholarship program, which also gives 40 smaller awards to students across the country, honors the extraordinary leadership and 42 years of service of the first and only President and CEO of Jobs for America’s Graduates, Inc., Kenneth M. Smith. Monroe’s scholarship will be paid out as $2,500 a year for four years of college.
Monroe, who plans to study nursing at Pratt Community College upon graduation, was informed of the award Tuesday at an assembly at her school.
“When they called me up at the end of the assembly, I was completely clueless that they were going to recognize me like that,” Monroe said. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be able to go to college. And to have this help to be able to pay for it feels great.”
A participant in the Kiowa County High School Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas (JAG-K) program for three years, Monroe plans to follow in the footsteps of her grandmother, a longtime nurse.
“My grandmother raised me, and she has been a nurse for over 45 years,” Monroe said. “I share the same passion for health care that she has. I want to help people feel better and get the help they need.”
The announcement came as a surprise to Monroe, but it didn’t surprise Marcus Mitchell, JAG-K Career Specialist at Kiowa County High School.
“She’s very involved in a lot of activities, and she’s overcome a lot in her life,” Mitchell said. “Knowing what some of the requirements were and some of her story, I thought she would have a good chance to win this scholarship. I know the financial piece of going to college could be a challenge for her, so that was another piece of the incentive to apply.
“Knowing that this scholarship is going to help her out is important, but I also love that JAG-K has helped her decide that the health field is for her. She’s done job shadows and lots of learning about the nursing career.”
As a JAG-K Career Specialist, Mitchell helps students like Monroe overcome barriers and graduate high school on time by equipping them with the skills to succeed. Kansas’ 81 JAG programs, which serve approximately 4,300 students in 43 school districts across the state, reported a graduation rate of 97 percent for the Class of 2020.
“JAG has affected my future by teaching me stuff about the real world, the basic stuff that is really important, but wouldn’t necessarily be taught in school,” Monroe said. “Like how to prepare for a job interview and what to expect from post-secondary education. It helped me with filling out scholarship applications and to make decisions about my future.”
JAG-K is a multi-year, in-school program for students in grades 6-12 that offers tools to successfully transition students into post-secondary school, the military, or directly into the workforce with marketable skills. Participants in the program face multiple barriers to success that their JAG-K Career Specialist helps them overcome through a nationally accredited, evidence-based model.
The 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization is a state affiliate of the national JAG program network which operates in 40 different states and territories. It is primarily funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant to the State of Kansas administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). In addition to school districts and DCF, JAG-K partners with the Kansas Department of Education. Other JAG-K funding sources include ADM, AT&T, Evergy, Goldstein Charitable Trust, John Deere, the Kansas Health Foundation, the Kansas Insurance Department, the Kansas State Bank Commissioner, Stormont Vail Health, Synchrony Financial, the Taco Bell Foundation and Walmart.
To learn more about JAG-K, visit www.jagkansas.org, ‘Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas’ on Facebook, and on Twitter at @JAG_Kansas.