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Women urged to apply for new Eastman scholarship at WGU Tennessee

Rick Wagner • Updated Aug 19, 2019 at 11:32 AM

KINGSPORT  — If you are a woman with an Eastman Chemical Company job or connection and are ready and willing to finish your bachelor’s degree online, there could be some money coming your way.

Local women who work for Eastman, for a contractor there or have other connections to Eastman are eligible to apply for a $5,000 scholarship to help cover two years of earning a bachelor’s degree, thanks to WGU Tennessee and the Eastman Foundation. WGU Tennessee is a competency-based program that offers college degrees online.

Kimberly Estep, chancellor of WGU Tennessee, in a Friday interview said she wants to spread the word about the availability of the Eastman Foundation Empower Scholars Scholarship. She said it is funded half from the national WGU, or Western Governors University, funneled through WGU Tennessee, and half from the Eastman Foundation. In all, eight $5,000 scholarships will be available.

Information is available online at tennessee.wgu/eastmanfoundation or by calling (855) 948-8495.

WHO’S ELIGIBLE?

Estep, in town for a business breakfast her school sponsored, said the Eastman scholarship eligibility area includes the eight Tennessee counties of the First Tennessee Development District — Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington — as well as parts of Southwest Virginia. The scholarship will pay $2,500 a year for two years toward the annual cost of about $6,450 or $3,225 per semester. However, applicants also could apply for other scholarships and grants, including the federal Pell Grant that, if given together with the Eastman scholarship, would cover the entire cost of two years of WGU education.  

“Eight $5,000 scholarships will be awarded in this part of the state,” Estep said. “They are really looking for women who had to discontinue their education.”

The application deadline is Oct. 31.

Candidates must be a female living in the Tri-Cities and be officially admitted to WGU. According to a flyer on the program, priority will be given to those who work “for Eastman or one of its third-party service providers (contractors) and have experienced one of more barriers that led to a break in their educational journey, due to family/work/personal obligations.”

Candidates must write an essay about their connection to Eastman and will be awarded based on “academic record, financial need, readiness for online study, current competency and other considerations,” the flyer said.

So far, Estep said, six candidates have applied. While she hopes for more applicants, she added that all eight available scholarships will be awarded only if applicants merit them.

“It’s one time,” Estep said. “If they do well, there is the possibility we could do this as recurring.” 

WHAT ELSE IS UP WITH WGU TENNESSEE?

WGU Tennessee also has a 6th Anniversary Scholarship, marking the WGU Tennessee milestone, with applications due by Oct. 9. The scholarship is valued at up to $6,000 over two years and will be awarded to 10 students. It is open to those statewide who want to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business, information technology, education or healthcare, including nursing.

More information is available online at tennessee.wgu.edu/6th.

By early September, Estep said WGU Tennessee plans to launch a rural campaign that will focus on selected “distressed counties” and ones surrounding them, as defined by the state using economic parameters. She said many of those areas have lost hospitals and have fewer jobs available for residents, who often have to commute to adjoining areas for work.

WGU Tennessee has students in all 95 counties and graduates in all 95 counties.

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