KOKOMO, Ind. — Art class was the reason Kenya Garcia went to school every day.
Now a student at Indiana University Kokomo, she’s chosen teaching as her profession, inspired by the example set by her art teacher, Troy Clark, at Frankfort High School.
“He changed my perspective,” she said. “If there were more teachers like Mr. Clark, I feel like more students would want to come to school, and would develop into good, successful people. I want to create that change, and I want to be that teacher. I want to go to college now because my future students are counting on me.”
Garcia and freshman Ella Hobson were among 200 future teachers statewide selected as Next Generation Hoosier Educator scholarship recipients by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Selected through a competitive process based on academic achievement and other factors, they will receive $7,500 annually, or up to $30,000 total, for committing to teach in Indiana for at least five years after graduating from college.
Dean Leah Nellis applauded both on their success.
“The faculty and staff of the School of Education congratulate Kenya and Ella on receiving this impressive scholarship,” she said. “It recognizes their academic achievements, and we are honored to have these two Next Generation Hoosier Educators as part of the School of Education family. We are proud of their accomplishments and of the future educators they will be.”
Hobson, from Logansport High School, gained early experience with the School of Education, participating in the Tomorrow’s Teachers program. By participating, she’s already earned credit for education classes, taught by IU Kokomo faculty at her high school.
“I was able to observe just about all grade levels, and it really helped me narrow down what path I want to take in the future,” she said, adding that she’s decided to teach secondary English. She also gained confidence from succeeding at the college classes and began building relationships with faculty and potential classmates.
“It’s a close-knit community, and I feel prepared for a successful transition from high school,” Hobson said.
She comes from a family of educators, and looks forward to following that tradition, in the footsteps of her mother, who is a pre-school teacher, and her grandfather, who served a 40-year career as an educator.
“I’ve always enjoyed helping others,” she said. “I was incredibly excited to be awarded this scholarship. My family has a history of being educators, so to be able to carry on that tradition, and have the support of this scholarship backing me up is a great feeling.”
Garcia, a sophomore, was honored to be chosen, knowing there were 627 students who applied statewide.
“Knowing how competitive it was, it means a lot to me to receive it,” she said. “I feel like it acknowledges my hard work in high school and my first year of college, and how much I care to pay forward what was given to me in high school.”
While she’s currently planning to teach high school art, Garcia said her job working with toddlers at the YMCA has prompted her to consider elementary education.
To qualify for the scholarship, students had to either graduate in the highest 20 percent of their high school class or earn a score in the top 20th percentile on the SAT or ACT. Recipients must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA and complete at least 30 hours per year to continue earning the scholarship.
“Recipients of the Next Generation Hoosier Educators scholarship will bring dedication, creativity and passion to classrooms across the state,” said Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Chris Lowery. “Teachers play an important and vital role in preparing students for academic and life success. It’s encouraging to see so many students committed to teaching in Indiana as the number of applicants increases each year.”