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Scholarship initiative brings opportunity for Aiken Tech students

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 7:08 PM EST
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - In South Carolina, a new initiative is sending than $17 million to the state’s technical schools, with Gov. Henry McMaster calling for an additional $124 million on the way. That includes Aiken Tech, where the money will go to students in high-demand fields like construction, manufacturing and health care.

The list of eligible programs ranges from welding, to medical coding, and even HVAC certificates. If you have been delaying continuing your education, we’re told now is the time to do it. We spoke to one local tech college student who says she’s happy to get in line.

Grace Adelis hopes she’ll be one of the roughly 15,000 students to get scholarship money through McMaster’s new Work Force Scholarship Program.

“It’s really a great opportunity for people, and for students like me. Because the more the burden is going to be lessened, the more encouraged you’ll be to go to school,” she said.

Getting here wasn’t easy. An immigrant from the Philippines – her story back home empowered her to go into nursing.

“My sister, she died for chronic kidney disease. She wasn’t able to go to the hospital, she was scared to get dialysis. And she died,” said Adelis.

Nursing is just one of the many programs with money up for grabs. We’re told most of the programs at Aiken Tech apply for the new scholarship funds.

“After we apply other aid, then we’ll apply this funding, which on average will save an Aiken Technical College student about $2,000 if they take a full load,” said Vinson Burdette, Aiken Tech vice president of academic and student affairs.

Big picture – scholarships in the classroom here are meant to help a larger issue.

“We have what many refer to as a skills gap in South Carolina. We have high wage, high demand jobs, and we don’t have enough people to fill those jobs,” he said.

Paving the way for people to get hands-on training. People like Grace, who’s doing it all in memory of her sister.

“Now I’m working in dialysis, and I want to be a dialysis nurse and would be able to educate people about the importance of health,” said Adelis.

So those dollars, and that education, is turning the page on something bigger than a labor shortage.

There are some prerequisites to be able to qualify. You must maintain at least a 2.0 grade-point average, and you must either be employed, complete 100 hours of community service or take a financial literacy test at the technical college.

In order to apply for the scholarship, the first step is apply to Aiken Technical College. If you are currently a student interested in applying, visit https://www.atc.edu/workforcescholarships for a complete list of eligible programs for students.

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