SHIVELY, Ky. (WAVE) - This year, the JCPS staff was challenged.
Superintendent Dr. Marty Polio created the JCPS Employee Sponsored Student Scholarship Fund at the start of the year. Some teachers donated part of their salaries to it. In exchange, it helped send their students to college.
Eight students went to school Friday, and walked out with a college scholarship. They each have a story about overcoming challenges, helping their classmates and wanting to change the world.
Eastern High School senior Valeria Kukharskaya said she remembers coming to the United States from Belarus without knowing English. Now, she’s a 4.0 student with perfect AP scores. She’ll be going to UofL and medical school to research antibiotic resistance, a goal at one point she didn’t think was possible.
“It was really stressful for me to have that dream and to have that financial instability,” Kukharskaya said. “That would keep me from getting my achievements, and of course medical school is going to be really expensive.”
Kukharskaya received a $10,000 scholarship check from Pollio, courtesy of JCPS staff who wanted to help her succeed. The donations from their paychecks also helped Western High School senior Asha Reaves.
Reaves received the largest scholarship, for $11,000. She already has her associate’s degree, and is getting her bachelor’s degree at Indiana University-Southeast. Then she will go back home to earn a master’s in applied developmental psychology at the University of Michigan.
“I was planning on going to school, working a job taking classes,” Reaves said. “Now, I don’t have to do that because I’ll have all the money I’ll need. I don’t have to pay anything off student loans.”
Reaves and Kukharskaya said the scholarships will help them take their goals to new heights. JCPS raised $50,000 for the scholarship focused on first-generation students. The application process included an essay and interview.
Scholarships were given at five other schools, including Western and Academy at Shawnee.