Last year it came to the attention of the Beta Mothers Club of Altus that students concurrently enrolled at Altus High School and Western Oklahoma State College receive tuition waivers, but the waivers do not cover any fees or books.
Because of the financial hardship, about 10 students a semester do not take advantage of the opportunity.
Tuition is only one of the many expenses students face at college. For many, financial aid is a way out of that, but for AHS and WOSC student Mary Pratt and others like her, financial aid is not an option while she is still in high school.
That is why club members decided to take action, establishing and sponsoring a scholarship for a deserving high school student every semester. Chad Wiginton, vice president for Student Support Services at WOSC, and the counselors from the high school, select the student.
Pratt was the first recipient of this scholarship.
“We looked around at some of the students who were interested in concurrent enrollment and I have noticed Mary over the last couple of years because she is at the technology center and she was our waitress one night and she has always been so friendly and polite,” Wiginton said. “Then I got to digging a little bit more and realized this is a young lady who is typically always working two jobs.”
Wiginton said Pratt doesn’t have the support that many people do at her point in life.
“She is working at Friendship Inn and JCPenney and basically working a full-time job while attending high school and college,” he said. “So that in itself pretty much says it all to me.”
Wiginton admired Pratt’s determination, drive, willingness and desire to be successful in life as possibly the first in her family to obtain a college degree.
“So when Jamie (Hokett) said they were ready to do this, she (Pratt) was one of the first ones in my mind,” Wiginton said.
Pratt accepted a check in the amount of $246.16 from the club and it was just the amount she needed to get a jump start on her future.
“It was a shock to me,” Pratt said. “After I moved out of my mom’s house I was told that I couldn’t do it and that I wouldn’t be able to afford my bills or afford college and I’ve done it. So to be chosen for this was shocking to me, but it was also a blessing and it just lets me know that everything happens for a reason.”
Now Hokett — who was instrumental in making this happen — is hoping this will inspire other businesses to get involved.
“When we found out that as many as 10 students do not participate in concurrent enrollment because of the limitations on the fees and the books, we decided we wanted to help,” Hokett said. “Our hope now is that this will inspire other groups around town to take on a similar calling to help sponsor these students.”
The Beta Mother’s Club is a group of mothers in the Altus community that meet once a month to enjoy fellowship with each other and assist in charitable endeavors to benefit the community, especially the children in town.
They have existed since 1950 and currently have 32 members with Sommer Robbins serving as the president this year and Hokett serving as the president last year.
The club also is involved in Kicks for a Cause kickball tournament, giving Thanksgiving meals to students and their families, giving Christmas presents to kids in need, giving aid to needy families identified by the schools, and now the Concurrent Enrollment Scholarship.
Wiginton said that he is grateful for people who take interest in students and offer support to help them reach their goals.
“There are so many students in high school who are academically capable of taking part in the concurrent enrollment program at Western Oklahoma State College, however, the fees and textbook costs for that program are sometimes something that those students are not able to overcome,” Wiginton said. “We’re so thankful to the Beta Mothers for reaching out to a deserving student and we look forward to working with them in the future to reward future students and hope this sparks a fire for some other groups in the community to potentially take interest in this program in helping worthy students.”
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.