Cesar Canul came to the University of Utah to study art and is preparing for a career as a graphic designer. A first-generation university student, he received an AT&T Aspire First Step scholarship last year—the scholarship’s first year on campus—and hopes to be an example to his younger siblings and relatives who have yet to reach college. “Opportunities like these have the potential to change lives for the better,” he says.
Amanda Wilson earned a bachelor of science degree in communication last fall and is beginning her career as a journalist. AT&T’s Aspire Next Step scholarship allowed her to dedicate time to become the quality journalist she believes the world so desperately needs. She worked hard to maintain her 4.0 grade point average and says AT&T’s confidence in her potential “is humbling and inspiring.” She hopes one day to follow in their footsteps and contribute to the studies of future generations of students.
Canul and Wilson are two of 28 beneficiaries of AT&T’s Aspire scholarship program, which has two components—First Step for first-year students, and Next Step for those close to graduating. The Aspire scholarships provide financial support for first generation college students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds in Utah’s rural areas.
“AT&T is committed to help provide access to the education and training people need to get and keep good jobs,” says Tara Thue, director of external and legislative affairs for AT&T. “Here in Utah we have the opportunity to find programs and organizations that fit within AT&T’s Aspire initiative, which aims to help students graduate from high school and college and become ready for the workforce. The University of Utah provided a great opportunity for AT&T to support students right here in the Beehive state.”
AT&T Aspire First Step scholarships recognize a student’s potential and give them the opportunity to build their futures. Ten students, selected from the pool of ARUP Utah Promise students (incoming low-income freshmen) received $1,000 in scholarship funding last school year. This impressive group of students will no doubt continue to do incredible things as they continue their U education and well after they graduate.
AT&T Next Step scholarships are completion scholarships that address a fundamental need in higher education—providing students with the extra boost of support they need to complete their college degree in a reasonable amount of time without taking a break. Wilson is one of 18 students who received $500 scholarships during their final year in 2017-18.
“It is humbling to see students from all different backgrounds start and complete their degrees with the help of the AT&T First Step and Next Step scholarships,” says Thue. “Students deserve the opportunity to learn the skills needed for a successful future, and it is clear that these scholarships in particular are impacting students and helping them reach their full potential. ”We believe that every student deserves the chance to succeed,” says Thue. “We hope our support helps continue to make this a reality at the University of Utah.”