A friendship that started at an Arlington church has grown to a partnership between the Mansfield school district and Prairie View A&M University that could benefit hundreds of high school students.
Starting this year, the top 25 percent of each class from each Mansfield high school get automatic admission into the university, located northwest of Houston. The qualification is based on a student’s academic ranking at the end of their junior year. This year’s seniors will be grandfathered in so the top 25 percent will also get automatic admission.
That gives high school students even more reason to stay on top of where they rank.
Plus, PVAMU will award three $5,000 scholarships to each Mansfield high school for a total of $90,000 in scholarships each year, said Darrell Sneed, associate superintendent for curriculum, instruction and accountability.
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Beyond that, PVAMU advisers will help with financial aid and making sure students have the right prerequisites. That’s huge considering how expensive college is for families, Sneed said.
“They’ll be available on a somewhat regular basis throughout the year to provide counseling services to kids about navigating the waters,” Sneed said. “Kids actually have an ability to be counseled by college admission officers. It’s a tremendous help and increases the likelihood that college is more accessible to kids.”
PVAMU is a historically black school but is open to everyone, and currently has 8,300 students and about 1,500 to 2,000 graduates per year. The school is best known for its college of engineering and college of nursing.
The Mansfield district and PVAMU celebrated the occasion Nov. 18 at Timberview High School and treated all the high school band students to a concert by the Panther band at Vernon Newsom Stadium.
Mansfield has similar admission agreements with the University of Texas at Arlington, the University of North Texas and Tarrant County College.
Superintendent Jim Vaszauskas credits Sneed for making this happen.
“This agreement is going to give them even more opportunities than they could ever imagine to succeed beyond their wildest dreams,” Vaszauskas said.
The genesis of this goes back a decade ago when George Wright and Sneed met at Cornerstone Baptist Church. Wright was the provost at the University of Texas at Arlington at that time. Now Wright is president at PVAMU.
“We started talking in the late spring or early summer about a possible partnership,” Sneed said.
Kenyatta Simmons, acting director of recruitment at PVAMU, said this is the university’s second partnership, the first being with the Houston school district.
“Mansfield is a great district,” he said. “We’ve always had a partnership with Mansfield in terms of the students we get. It was just a natural fit.”
Michael Evans, president of the Mansfield school board and pastor of Mansfield’s historic black church Bethlehem Baptist, said the timing is significant as the district marks the 50th anniversary of its first integrated graduating class this May.
“This means a whole lot more than just a partnership,” Evans said. “It shows a lot about our community, where we’ve come from. We’re giving opportunity students from all over now.”
The scholarships could change a student’s life.
“We’re talking about free education from a four-year institution,” Evans said. “You can’t beat that.”