WORTON — Though the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected the Class of 2021’s junior and senior academic years, Kent County High School graduates Jordyn Cox-Pemberton, Giuseppe Gordillo Terreros and others soldiered on with help from the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education’s Next Generation Scholars program.

Cox-Pemberton is headed to Millersville University in Pennsylvania to study engineering and Terrero is bound for the University of Maryland at College Park to study architecture.

Though she has worked in the family business since age 13, Cox-Pemberton said her dream is to enter the general workforce and make life easier for people through engineering, according to a news release.

“Next Generation Scholars has shown me the steps I need to take in order to be set up for the real world,” she said in the news release. “I learned how to nail my interviews, pick the best colleges for me, write a super-bomb college essay, and absolutely crush all my expectations of what I thought I could do.”

“To be able to go to college is just unbelievable,” said Terreros, whose parents emigrated from Mexico.

Members of his family stopped their education around middle or high school.

“Now, my sister and I are advancing our story and breaking the barrier of what has been my family’s history for many years,” he said in the news release.

Participating in MBRT’s Next Generation Scholars program helped Terreros secure $20,000 in scholarships and grants to help him realize the dream of going to college.

“Next Generation Scholars was there to make sure I understand I have options, and my job was to take every opportunity and benefit so I could get to where I want to go,” said Terreros, who participated in 100% of MBRT’s engagements offered since freshman year, according to the news release.

Next Generation Scholars is a state grant program established by Maryland House Bill 1403 in 2016 that provides funding for college access through nonprofit organizations to enhance college and career awareness and college completion for low-income Maryland high school students.

The MBRT has been awarded five grants by the Maryland State Department of Education to work in Allegany, Caroline, Dorchester, Kent and Wicomico counties.

There were nearly 600 seniors in 2021 in the Next Generation Scholars program, including 52 from KCHS.

The Class of 2021 is the first to complete the program.

Aundra Anderson is the program coordinator for Kent County Public Schools.

All students who qualify for the school system’s free and reduced meal program are eligible to join.

Students in MBRT’s Next Generation Scholars program attend Fort Hill High School in Allegany County, Colonel Richardson and North Caroline high schools in Caroline County, Cambridge-South Dorchester High School in Dorchester County and Wicomico High School in Wicomico County, in addition to Kent County High School.

As these seniors decided whether to attend college, begin a career or join the military, the Next Generation Scholars program provided them with tools, knowledge, resources and experience to guide and support them regardless of the path they choose, according to a news release.

Since 2017, students participating in the program have gone on college campus tours, learned about career choices and education requirements, met with college admissions specialists, attended sessions on test preparation, participated in hands-on learning labs and so much more. These activities helped them prepare for high school graduation, college and better life choices, the news release states.

For 30 years, the MBRT has been connecting the business community with local schools through its Maryland Scholars Speakers Bureau and STEM Specialists in the Classroom programs.

In 2017, the MBRT added the Next Generation Scholars program, which provides funding through the Howard P. Rawlings Maryland Guaranteed Access Grant, administered by the Maryland Higher Education Commission, to enhance education and career awareness as well as college completion for high school students with a demonstrated financial need.

The Guaranteed Access Grant provides an award that will help cover the cost of full-time study at a Maryland college or university for low-income families.

The MBRT, a Baltimore-headquartered nonprofit, currently serves nearly 1,900 students in six high schools across five counties.

It is one of several organizations that partner with leadership and school counselors at select schools throughout the state to provide grade-specific services to ensure that students who are part of the Next Generation Scholars program graduate ready for their next steps in college, career and life, according to the news release.

MBRT coordinators help students and parents understand that college is an option for everyone, while bridging the knowledge gap that exists for many families about college and their chosen career paths.

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