Students urged to attend college fair

Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 3:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 3:31 p.m.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida will kick off King Celebration 2014 activities a little earlier this time during the Keeper of the Dream College and Scholarship Fair for middle and high school students and their families.



* What: The Keeper of the Dream College & Scholarship Fair for middle and high school students and their families.

* When: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 28.

* Where: King Center, 1028 NE 14th St.

* Information: Call 352-256-2360.

The late civil rights leader believed that access to higher education and job training programs at career and trade schools was necessary for blacks and other minorities to take full advantage of opportunities for a better life in the U.S.

The fair will be held from 11 a.m.-2 p..m. Sept. 28 at the King Center at 1028 NE 14th St. It is free and open to the community.

Organizers hope the event will help Alachua County middle and high school students learn about educational and scholarship opportunities after high school and also help seniors get a jump on applying for the 2014 Edna M. Hart Keeper of the Dream Scholarship.

"We decided to have the fair in the fall instead of in the winter to help high school seniors and juniors get a head start on the college application and scholarship application process," said Rodney Long, president and founder of the King Commission, which is sponsoring the fair in collaboration with Mike Powell & Associates — Athletic, Academic & Scholarship Consulting LLC in Gainesville. "This is actually the beginning of our King Celebration 2014 activities and we are hoping many students will come out to take advantage of the information and resources that will be available," said Long.

The commission is the primary sponsor of the annual King Commemorative March held in January on the national holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader.

The Keeper of the Dream Scholarship is awarded to a high school senior who epitomizes the legacy of King through academics, civic involvement and leadership achievements. Long said the criteria for the award changed recently. The deadline to apply is Nov. 1.

"The range of how the points were allocated was reduced from 1-25 to 1-5," Long said. "We revised our ‘Strength of Curriculum' category to make it more competitive for mainstream, honors and magnet students. Also, we provided more clarity in how the application must be submitted and the types of information that will be needed to be evaluated for the award, and we included a tie-breaker in the event of a tie in the scoring of the applications."

Long said the amount of the 2014 scholarship has yet to be determined. It was worth $7,500 this year, which the recipient, Jenna Stafford, will receive in equal amounts over the next four years. Long said the commission has awarded more than $100,000 since 1989, when it began the scholarship.

Mike Powell, owner and founder of Mike Powell & Associates, said a host of businesses, colleges, fraternities, sororities and civic and other organizations will be present at the fair to talk about the scholarships they offer and how "kids can specifically get their hands" on those scholarships. He also said Florida Memorial College in Miami, Santa Fe College, University of Florida and other colleges from throughout the Southeast will be present.

"There will be things at the fair for the entire family," Powell said. "We are going to have prizes, there are going to be giveaways and a DJ."

Powell said the fair will be unique because each college and organization will have a chance to speak to the entire audience.

"Just in case you didn't get around to talk to a certain school in person, you will hear from their representative when they speak from the stage," he said.

Powell said although there will be brief speeches given by representatives from every college and organization present, he is encouraging students and their families to visit all of the tables at the fair.

"There will be an official program, but the meat of the program is actually the college fair piece of going around from table to table talking and interacting with the representatives at the tables," Powell said.

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