More than 400 high school seniors from Fort Worth schools were surprised Thursday with acceptance letters to Paul Quinn College for themselves and two family members.
The private college has developed a partnership with five Fort Worth ISD schools: Dunbar High School, Eastern Hills High School, O. D. Wyatt High School, Young Men’s Leadership Academy, and Young Women’s Leadership Academy.
On Thursday, the students thought there were only visiting the Historically Black College campus.
Paul Quinn College President Dr. Michael Sorrell made the surprise announcement in the campus gymnasium.
“Every senior at your high school that has a 3.0 or better will automatically be admitted to Paul Quinn College,” Sorrell said.
Elizabeth McCorvey, a senior at the Young Women’s Leadership Academy, was among the students who visited Thursday. McCovey said she had already been accepted to 10 colleges prior to Thursday and has now added Paul Quinn College to her list of options.
“I looked at my college advisor and was like, 'Wait what?' Then he [Sorrell] said what he had said and I was like, 'Whoa!'” McCorvey recalled Friday. “It was just so great. I’m still speechless, like, 'Wow, thank you!'”
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McCorvey said she hopes to study and practice law one day. Though she remains undecided on her final decision on where she will attend school in the fall, her mother Leesa said she hopes this is a lesson about the value of hard work.
“She wants to strive and she gets upset when something [isn’t] the way she wants it to be, and that shows me she’s determined,” Leesa McCorvey said.
According to a press release from the college, each student from area schools that are part of the partnership has a 3.0 GPA or above and was recommended by their principals. The initial five FWISD high schools have “deep roots in the African-American community and have historically produced high-achieving students,” the press release states.
Justin Edwards, principal of Dunbar High School, said more than 100 of the accepted students Thursday attend Dunbar.
“I think it definitely gives the students a sense of hope and not only just a sense of hope but a sense of purpose. I think it lets them know that there is more light at the end of the tunnel, and they don’t have to do this alone,” Edwards said. “When you look historically at some of the campuses that are represented, those are some of the high-income poverty areas. Mainly schools on the east side of Fort Worth.”
Moving forward at Paul Quinn College, each admitted Pell Grant student with a 3.0 GPA will have the ability to select two members of their family to begin the college process with them, school officials say.
By extending the acceptances to two additional family members, Edwards said he hopes this will help remove any barriers that may prevent students from attending college or keep them from finishing school.
"One of the barriers is once students get to college, they usually have family struggles back home. So, when you extend that invitation to two additional family members you start to eliminate barriers. As our students go to college, they have a familiar face," he said. "You have siblings or parents who may have wanted to pursue college or may have started and did not get the opportunity to finish."
Family members can take courses online or through PQCx, a credentialing and upskilling program.