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UCPS seniors bring in $31.7 million in scholarships

Teresa Tahir, from Monroe, at left, and Mary Sykora, from Annapolis, Maryland, are both engineering students at NC State. Both are pictured in Teresa’s dorm room getting ready for classes that will begin Wednesday,(Aug.20,2008).

When classes begin at NC State in Raleigh Wednesday, Piedmont High School 2008 graduate Teresa Tahir will begin a four-year journey to find ways to help make the world a better place.

“I want to help things be more efficient, find ways to cut down on air pollution, help in the energy crisis,” she said from her dorm room in Raleigh.

Teresa, 18, was the top scholarship winner among the 1,809 college-bound UCPS seniors. She earned scholarship offers from 21 universities totaling a four-year value of $597,000. She chose NC State because of its engineering department and plans to study environmental engineering.

“I’m very appreciative to have had so many opportunities to go to so many places,” she said. “I was really surprised to have gotten so many scholarship offers. I wanted to keep my options open, because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. That helped me a lot.”

Union County Public Schools 2008 graduating seniors broke an all-time record this year by bringing in $31.7 million in college scholarships.
The 1,184 scholarships, with a four-year value of $31.7 million, were awarded to 519 of the school systems 1,809 college-bound seniors. This breaks last year’s $22.3 million offered via 1,044 scholarships awarded to 2007 graduating seniors.

Piedmont High School students brought in the most dollars, with 182 college-bound Piedmont seniors offered $10.2 million. Weddington High School seniors followed close behind, with 493 of its college-bound graduates bringing in $9.5 million.
Sun Valley High’s 256 college-bound graduates pulled in a total of $4.6 million, while Parkwood High’s 274 college-bound students received $2.6 million. Forest Hills’ 197 college-bound graduates brought in $2.0 million, Porter Ridge High’s 258 college-bound graduates brought in $1.9 million, while Monroe High’s 144 college-bound graduates pulled in $1.1 million.

“Starting in their junior year, we recommend students begin to research schools, their majors and what school opportunities are available so they will be able to apply their senior year,” said Stacey Butera, a Piedmont High School counselor. “We really encourage them to do a lot of research ahead of time before they start applying in their senior year.”

Students are encouraged to look at college websites and decide where they would like to attend. “There are many free scholarship searches they can start looking at, see how many scholarships are out there and what they may qualify for so that they can apply,” Butera said. “There’s not a set number of colleges and scholarships we recommend applying for, but three to four is good number to shoot for. If they want to apply to more, they can.”

As for advise to others applying for college scholarships, Teresa said it’s important to apply to numerous universities. “It’s good to keep your options open. You might change your mind about what you want to do and where you want to go,” she said.

While still in high school, Teresa said students should stay focused on academics and get involved in extra curricular activities. “I was involved in Piedmont’s soccer team and the school’s junior engineering technology society. I tried to stay involved yet keep my grades up. I think that’s what helped.”

Her father, Ray Tahir, isn’t surprised at this daughter’s accomplishment. “We are very proud of her,” he said. “She’s been a great student. She’s very energetic and motivated.”

Teresa’s freshman year at Piedmont wasn’t easy. Because of her father’s job transfer, Teresa left her friends in Texas to begin at a new high school her freshman year in Union County. “Like every transfer, it was hard, but she did very well academically and adjusted well,” Tahir said.

Tahir said his wife, Ann, was particularly instrumental in helping their daughter with her college plans. “I feel her mother was instrumental in helping Teresa become successful academically,” he said. “My wife is a college graduate and went to a really good college in Maryland. She was influential in making sure that Teresa also went to a good college.”

Applying for scholarships is free, but there is a cost in applying for admission to universities. Butera said there is usually a $30 to $50 fee for each college application. This can become costly if the student is applying to several universities. The pay off, however, is that applying for admission automatically puts the student up for consideration of any scholarships the college may offer.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, Publications Coordinator
Posted: Aug 20, 2008 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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