Pictured: MTC President - Rhames, FCSD School Board Chair - William Frick, and Cornelius Robinson, Fairfield County Council Chairman

"A Fairfield Promise"

For the first time in history, the 2019 high school graduating class from Fairfield County will have the opportunity to attend Midlands Technical College (MTC)--tuition-free--thanks to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by MTC President Dr. Ronald L. Rhames; Fairfi eld County School District Board Chairman, William Frick; and Fairfield County Council Chairman, Cornelius Robinson. The Fairfield County Promise Program is a scholarship funded through the county and the school district in partnership with MTC that covers the cost of tuition.

“The goal of the Fairfield Promise is to increase access to higher education and create a culture that leads to the completion of a college degree,” said Rhames. “When these students graduate from MTC, they will be highly skilled, ready to work, and should have no college debt to repay.” Rhames said the Promise Program supports students who thought college might be an impossible dream due to a shortage of finances. “It provides financial assistance to eligible citizens of Fairfield County to attend MTC and enroll in and complete academic degrees, diplomas, or certification programs,” he said. “Students in the program will develop leadership skills that positively influence their personal and professional communities.”

Fairfield School District Superintendent Dr. J.R. Green said the program is designed to improve the future of the whole community by investing in young people.

“We are about more than just graduating students from high school,” said Green. “High school should not be the end of their educational journey, but the beginning. We are trying to change the mindset of every young person in this county. Our goal is not to simply educate young people. Our goal is to make productive citizens, and the best way to become a productive citizen is to be gainfully employed. When we invest in young people, that's how we transform lives. That’s how we transform the community.”

“I’m excited about this program,” said Fairfield County Administrator, Jason Taylor. “Our county has great potential. But for us to reach our full potential, we have to invest in ourselves. Education is one of the surest ways to guarantee that our children will have access to good jobs and the opportunity for a better future. And an educated workforce will be the best way to attract new employers to our community and create great jobs here in Fairfield County.”

“I’m very proud of our Fairfield partners for making this opportunity avail- able to so many,” said Rhames. “The Promise Program is just the starting point for these students. Now MTC will assist them in planning a future that helps them complete college, become highly skilled, and put those skills to work--thus making a better life for themselves, their families, and the communities across Fairfield County.”

High school graduates of public, charter, private, state-approved home school or GED recipients who reside in Fairfield County are eligible. Students must enroll at MTC within 12 months of high school graduation or GED completion.

For more information, or to apply to MTC, meet with an admissions counselor, and get help completing the FAFSA, stop by the MTC Fairfield Campus Enrollment events on July 23 or August 1 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Those who cannot attend, contact Brandon Benjamin at benjaminb@midlandstech.edu | 803.822.3515.

The Promise Perspectives

Krishayla BoydStudent Journalist

Dr. Rhames, alumni and current president of Midlands Technical College, believes the Promise Program will help graduates of this county along with helping the county economically. The application process is free and the summer classes are covered by the program. According to Dr. Rhames, other school districts have approached them with a similar idea, but Fairfield is the first school district to enhance the Promise Program. Concerning GPA, district leaders are still working on the process, but students are still required to maintain a certain average when applying for financial aid. Dr. Rhames believes their responsibility is to invest in young people by changing their mindset to believe they have the ability to go to college and by preparing them to productive citizens. Dr. Rhames stated, 'This has been an exciting day for me and Fairfield County!" He believes that by offering more classes, there should be growth and more students will come to campus. One tip Dr. Rhames would like to leave for students is, "If you're near home, you can lower your cost and take advantage of this great opportunity."

Amari HillStaff Journalist

Dr. Green, Fairfield County Superintendent, attended the signing of the Fairfield Promise Initiative. This initiative, which is the first in the county, garnered the support of many community members. When asked about the program and who it will support, Dr. Green responded, “This program supports everybody: public, private, charter, and home-schooled individuals who live in Fairfield County.” This program, although not new to the state of South Carolina, allows individuals the opportunity to receive a valuable education that they can bring back to Fairfield or benefit from in endeavors across the world. In the future, Dr. Green hopes to establish an endowment to better fund this program and expand it to students seeking attendance at any four-year university in South Carolina.

Trenell BoydStudent Journalist

Mr. Cornelius Robinson, Chairman of the Fairfield County Council, signed an agreement for the Fairfield Promise Program. Mr. Robinson believes investing in kids of surrounding communities and preparing them for the workforce is his duty. Even though there has not been 100% support from the council, he does foresee an increase in support over time. Whether or not he holds the position as County Council Chair, Mr. Robinson hopes that council members will still invest. The Fairfield Promise Program is a step towards brighter futures, and "Today is a great day for Fairfield County!” expressed Robinson.