August 22, 2012

Free College!

Students in Georgia are headed to higher ed after a generous millionaire agreed to cover the costs.

“All students you are now dismissed.”

Shelby: During the final few days of school last spring, most students at Green County High School were dreaming about summer break, but not Tyesha Dalton.

Tyesha Dalton: I work hard. I work very hard to get where I am.

Shelby: She spent 12 years dreaming about a future beyond Greensboro, Georgia, where nearly 20% of people live in poverty.

“In this community some might have been in foster care, and not really have a home or a room they can call their own.”

Shelby: Tyesha was one of 54 students chosen to be part of the city’s I Have a Dream program. The program was created by this man, Tom Kelly, a health care executive who moved nearby after he retired.

Tom Kelly: My mom came from Ireland. And if she had a nickel, she gave it someone. And she always told us, you better give back. You have to give back.

Shelby: Mr. Kelly made a promise to all those kids.

“The promise was we will help you get into college, and we will pay last dollar, so you cannot have finances be a problem in going to college.”

Shelby: Kelly was able to raise $2,000,000 to pay student expenses not covered by scholarships. For their end of the deal, Tyesha and her fellow Dreamers committed to staying late at school on weekdays, attending weekend study halls, and taking summer classes.

“We have never had a summer as a regular kid.”

Shelby: So, what does Tyesha want to do when she gets out of school? She has a couple of ideas.

Tyesha: I want a daycare. I want to be a pediatrician.

Shelby: Those are just the types of goals Tom Kelly had in mind.  It is why he took the students on 80 trips. He brought them to space camp, and even made sure they learned proper table manners.

“Leave your knife on the side of the butter plate, like that.”

“The thinking is, you cannot dream about what you want to be unless you know what’s out there.”

Shelby: And last spring, all the Dreamers who started at Green County High graduated…

Announcer: Tyesha Dalton.

Shelby: …which has a lot of people applauding in Green County – maybe one man a little louder than the others.


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