by Emily Vontom, Published November 14, 2012
Samantha Weaver, a freshman at Eastern Michigan University, wants to improve schools.
Weaver, 18, had an awakening in high school when she participated in the Generation of Promise program sponsored by Focus: Hope. As part of the program, she got to tour the City of Detroit to learn about diversity, cultural awareness and problems in the city, she says. She was even paired up with a friend in the program and was set to visit her friend's school. But, something unexpected happened.
"My parents didn't let me go. I was devastated and embarrassed that they didn't allow me to go to her school, but they thought that it would not be safe," said Weaver, who grew up in Lake Orion, Mich. "I couldn't wrap my head around this at first, because I had always known school as a safe place, but I realized that other people haven't had the same experience."
Weaver quickly realized that her school was a new building and there were computer labs in every hallway, but not ever student is fortunate enough to get that type of an education she says. This realization is what made Weaver want to teach.
Weaver's desire to help improve schools and education has been given a huge step forward thanks to being awarded the Presidential Scholarship from Eastern.
The Presidential Scholarship is an elite four-year award that pays 30 credit hours per year of in-state tuition, housing, food allowance and mandatory fees.
"I want to change schools like the ones I visited - and didn't get to visit - during my time in Generation of Promise," Weaver said. "I want to make schools a better place, because everyone should have a safe environment to learn in."
"I am very thankful to have received the scholarship," said Weaver. "When I came to visit, I kept picturing myself walking around here and living here and I realized that this place could be my new home."
Presidential Scholars are selected during Eastern's annual Presidential Scholarship Competition in December. Awards are based on a competitive exam. To compete, high school seniors must have either a 3.7 GPA, with a minimum of a 25 ACT or 1,150 SAT score. Each scholarship winner must also complete a successful interview.