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A commitment to recognizing and developing student potential

October 6, 2011

As a high school student, Ivan Penado wasn’t really the type to join clubs or participate in extracurricular activities, but you would never guess that if you met him today. In fact, he never thought he would go to college - the expenses associated with higher education made college completely out of reach and beyond any serious consideration. But a field trip paired with a call encouraging him to apply for an ACCESS scholarship changed his life.

“Appalachian’s commitment to me has spawned a new person, unrecognizable from three years ago,” says Ivan, whose family income and status as a first-generation college student from North Carolina helped qualify him for four years of a debt-free education at Appalachian.

ACCESS scholars are expected to perform well academically, but they are often faced with more challenges than the average student at Appalachian, so there is plenty of support in place to help navigate the logistics of college life, including priority registration, guaranteed access to tutoring services, and close relationships with academic advisors, who encourage their designated ACCESS scholars to get involved in extra-curricular and co-curricular activities.

Ivan’s many campus involvements include membership in two elite teams of student scholars: the Appalachian Diversity Scholars, and the Student Ambassadors, a dedicated team of high-performing students who represent the university to the public by serving as hosts for many on-campus events, participating in service projects on behalf of the university and traveling to public events on behalf of the university.

“Appalachian’s ACCESS program literally saved me from a difficult life,” says Ivan. Support for scholarship programs and honors programs is more critical than ever, as the divide widens between those who have access to public education and those who don’t.