Kearney Bound!

Renee Ballenger

Twenty Kearney high school freshmen will be the first to take part in Kearney Bound! as the result of agreements signed Jan. 13 at Kearney High School and Kearney Catholic High School.

Signing the official agreements in public ceremonies were UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen; Dr. Brian Maher, superintendent of Kearney Public Schools; and Terry Torsen, Kearney Catholic High School principal. Through the new Kearney Bound! agreements, the students–15 from KHS and 5 from KCHS– will attend UNK with full support for their tuition, books, fees, and room and board. The combined partnerships provide $1.3 million in educational support for the 20 students to earn their undergraduate degrees. In 2006, Kearney Bound! partnerships were signed with high schools in North Platte and Lexington.

By late March, students at each of the Kearney high schools will be selected for inclusion in the program. To be considered, the students must show academic promise, demonstrate motivation to participate and meet the federal government’s criteria for participation in TRIO programs. Further, the students must be Nebraska residents, have a social security number and be a first-generation college prospect, i.e., neither parent has a bachelor’s degree.

“This is not a giveaway,” Chancellor Kristensen says. “It is something that they will have to earn if they are going to get a free ride to UNK.We are not waiving any admission standards or requirements.” At both signings, Chancellor Kristensen noted that KHS and KCHS have strong academic programs.

Students selected for Kearney Bound! will receive directed advising, tutoring,mentoring and will come to the campus for motivational experiences and educational opportunities.

“We started the program, because there are a number of very good students with one big hurdle–they can’t afford to go to college,” Chancellor Kristensen says, adding, “If we had the resources, we would be in a lot of other schools.

We are very committed to first generation students.”