Members of the first class of Kauffman Scholars started college in the Fall of 2009. We asked a few of them to share their thoughts about the program and the path they've taken to follow their big dreams.
Penn Valley Community College, Kansas City, Missouri
"I remember in seventh grade we would go to Westport High School and do the assignments the Kauffman Scholars academic coaches would give us. They talked about college a lot. It sounded nice, but I wasn’t really sure what college was and I was too young to understand the significance of the program.
"Everyone has goals in life, but sometimes those goals seem impossible because of your economic situation. Both of my parents are Salvadorian immigrants. I was never the best or the smartest student. I didn’t even speak English very well. It was a shock to be chosen for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. They saw something in me that I didn’t even know was there."
Howard University, Washington, DC
"I remember when I was little I cried one day because school was closed. I always thought my love of learning was the beginning of my dreams coming true. I worked hard to keep good grades even when my family would tell me my dreams were far-fetched.
"Kauffman Scholars gave me newfound confidence and the courage to venture into new activities. I felt stronger with every breath I took, because I knew I was another step closer to achieving my dreams.
"Kauffman gave my life direction and fueled my spirit. They helped me to realize that the door of opportunity was always there. It was my choice to walk in. And I did."
Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas
"The moment of truth for me was when I found out that some of my closest friends were being released from the Kauffman Scholars program because of the choices they were making. Seeing them lose this opportunity and jeopardize their future was a wake-up call for me.
"Kauffman helped me find the path I could take to make something of myself. For me it was the opportunity and the big push I needed to succeed in life. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me."
University of Missouri - Kansas City
"I always knew that I wanted to go to college and get an education. I wanted to stand out from other students and I wanted to challenge myself. Financially, my parents were barely making ends meet, so until Kauffman came along I didn’t know where I was going to get the money to go to college.
"For my family, college was something that we would see in the movies or on TV. Now everyone in my family is getting a sense as to what college is about. My brothers see me doing homework when I come home. College is not just a part of my life, but part of my family’s life as well. We all think big now. For us, anything is possible."
University of Kansas
"The college visits and the summer residential programs offered by Kauffman Scholars made the transition to the university easy. I am very thankful for the Kauffman Scholars program for the opportunity to attend school without the heavy burden of financial debt.
"With Kauffman I have a whole team behind me ready to give me guidance. I am inspired to do better. I will be receiving a degree not only for myself, but also to pave the way for the scholars to come."