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CLEAR Core empowers local students through scholarships

A locally based program hit a milestone in 2015 for its educational contributions.

2015 is the year CLEAR Core Inc. awarded roughly 80 scholarships to local students, with a minimum of four scholarships presented annually.

The organization stands for Creating Leaders by Empowering Area Residents and was created in Taylor.

The students who qualify for a scholarship must have graduated from Lafayette or Oxford high schools.

Scholarship Committee Chairwoman Erma Carter said the funds help students buy books, computers and other needed college supplies.

“Organizations like CLEAR Core Inc. help provide financial opportunities for low-socioeconomic and ‘The Forgotten Middle’ students who want to go to college, as well as opportunities for high-achievers,” Carter said.

The Scholarship Committee for CCI identifies candidates who have the potential to be a positive influence in their communities.

“They look at students who have overcome life-changing obstacles and beaten the odds, students who understand the joy of giving and being compassionate, students who are leaders in their schools, communities and students who are not quitters,” Carter said.

Carter said the students’ grades and ACT scores are also considered, but are used to gage ability to enroll in and be successful in college. Since the first scholarship was awarded more than 80 percent of scholarship recipients have complied successfully with the program requirements.

Former Lafayette High School student Shannon Hoskins was a recipient of a CCI scholarship before she attended and graduated from the University of Mississippi.

Hoskins said the funds went toward more than the cost of enrollment. The scholarship filled in the cracks where other scholarships failed to fill.

She said the extra funds let her focus on school as well as put her parents at ease.

“It took some of the pressure off of my parents financially,” Hoskins said.

Another LHS recipient, Raphael Woodall, said, “I thank God for CLEAR Core. It helped out a lot.”

Woodall completed his undergraduate degree in social work at the University of Mississippi. Later, he earned his master’s degree from the University of Alabama. He currently is employed as a social worker at Fresenius Medical Center in Memphis, Tennessee.

Woodall said the scholarship mainly went toward textbooks, but every little scholarship helped him excel. He said he would encourage students eligible to apply.

“Tuition is steadily rising. College doesn’t get cheaper,” Woodall said.

Alex Littlejohn applied his scholarships to Mississippi State University toward his bachelor’s degree in wetland and wildlife management. He also went back to school and earned his master’s degree in wetland ecology.

“CLEAR Core was a scholarship opportunity right out of high school,” Littlejohn said.

Although Littlejohn received other scholarships as well as held a job during school, he said the CCI funds gave him much-needed breathing room academically.

Hoskins, Woodall and Littlejohn all applied by completing the application and submitting it along with a copy of their transcripts, two letters of recommendation, an essay of their choice and a photo by March 1 each year. They were chosen after a committee reviewed their submissions.

In addition to multiple educational services CCI provides to Lafayette students, the program has also sponsored health fairs and gang awareness workshops.

“Future endeavors include setting up a computer lab at the Taylor Community Center, providing computer skills training for the elderly and exercise classes for the elderly,” Carter said.

Carter added the importance of supporting programs such as CCI because it is predicted that by 2025, 65 percent of all jobs will require some form of formal training.

Woodall said when people donate to CCI; they are investing in the future.