Goldsby Scholarship Worth Its Weight in Gold

Goldsby Scholarship Worth Its Weight in Gold

New and innovative ideas are often greeted with everything from benign interest to outright denunciation, and such was the case with the Thomas B. Goldsby Jr. Scholarship program at Mid-South Community College. Established through the tremendous generosity and vision of the Goldsby family, the program is now considered the gold standard for providing students with great higher education opportunities while still in high school. Experts all over the country are saying we need more programs just like it.

That certainly wasn’t the situation in the early days of the effort. When Tommy Goldsby came to the College to ask what we would do with a substantial monetary gift ($500,000 at the time), we told him we would create a scholarship program to give deserving, qualified high school students a head start on their higher learning experience. He liked the idea and gave us half a million dollars to get it rolling. We soon discovered that other folks weren’t quite as enthralled with the concept.

The concurrent-enrollment scholarship program was much misunderstood in its early days. We had some state officials saying, “Shut that thing down; you’ve lost your mind.” On the local level, we heard that potential scholarship recipients were told things like, “Oh, that’s crazy. You don’t want to go down to that Mickey Mouse little ole school. Nothing they teach you is going to transfer anywhere. Nobody will ever accept their credit.”

In our first semester (fall 2001), we enrolled only 15 students but remained firmly committed to the concept. Word began to spread, and we eventually found a bunch of mommas and daddies who said, “Hey, that sounds like a pretty good deal; let’s give it a try.” After that, it didn’t take long for the program to exceed our wildest expectations.

The Goldsby Scholarship program allows us to reach kids who have no idea about college and give them the opportunity to learn what it takes to succeed. They discover that they can do the work, and that helps them gain confidence and an expectation of what they can accomplish. They become very different people. Their aspirations change; their hopes change; their dreams change. And we need to remain in the business of changing people’s aspirations and dreams.

The scholarship program also allows us to take kids who were going to be okay anyway and jumpstart their careers. After graduating from high school, my daughter showed up at college a year ahead of where she would have been without the Goldsby Scholarship program. The people at her school asked, “How’d you do this?” She said, ‘Aw, it’s my crazy daddy. His college has this scholarship thing for high school students.”

Since 2001, 3,300 young people have received scholarships, and they have gone on to more than 170 colleges and universities, including some of the most prestigious ones in the country. We have no evidence of one single hour being lost by any of those students. The quality and quantity of transfer institutions clearly demonstrate the program’s tremendous impact. And that doesn’t even take into account the significant savings for Goldsby Scholars’ families. Based on the tuition rate at major state institution, the Goldsby Scholarship has saved our folks almost $12.5 million. That’s mind boggling.

Even with Tommy’s generous gift, the scholarship expense is significant. The College is spending about $75,000 of its own resources each semester because we think it is vitally important to our students. If you are in a position to help us keep this program going, please contact the MSCC Foundation.

With Tommy Goldsby’s help, we’re playing smart and focusing what we’re doing on the best interest of the students. There is absolutely nothing we can do with our money that is more important than investing in the future of our young people.

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