MAC college program offers $330,000 in scholarships, including 3 full Baylor rides | Education
For 38 local community college students, scholarships totaling $330,000 awarded Tuesday through the MAC College Money Program promise to be life changing.
For Jerushalayim Guadarrama Perea, its price was a sign of divine providence.
At a ceremony on Tuesday evening, 35 students received $5,000 scholarships to pursue higher education. Guadarrama Perea was among three McLennan Community College students who received a full ride to complete their studies at Baylor University.
It was a detour to Guadarrama Perea, but welcome. She graduated valedictorian from La Vega High School in May, also receiving an associate’s degree from MCC at the same time through dual enrollment.
She told friends she was heading to the University of Texas at Arlington, but she had her doubts.
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“Really, I didn’t have the money to continue studying, so I was really worried about that,” Guadarrama Perea said. “But I asked God what he wanted for me and saw how quickly the doors opened and he provided the college and he provided the whole tuition.”
She is now the third in her family to receive a MAC College Money Scholarship and the first to become a Baylor Bear.
Like other scholarship recipients on Tuesday, Guadarrama Perea had already qualified for the MAC program, which begins with need-based grants for high school graduates to attend the first four semesters of college.
To receive the additional $5,000 scholarship, students must complete 60 college credit hours and maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Since its inception 27 years ago, the MAC program has helped 14,000 students and awarded $11.4 million to students to make higher education possible, regardless of financial constraints. The program is administered and funded by the Waco Foundation.
Malcolm Duncan Sr., former mayor of Waco and local philanthropist, created the program alongside his wife, Mary Ruth, in 1995 to help local students, giving them the opportunity to pursue higher education and graduate without debt. This year’s ceremony was the first to be held without Duncan, who died in May 2021.
In addition to the work he has done for the foundation over the years, Duncan left the Waco Foundation a $9 million bequest – the second largest gift ever made to the Waco Foundation.
The donation will fund the recently launched Duncan Scholars program, gradually replacing the MAC College Money program. Unlike the MAC program, the Duncan Scholars program will target students leaving Waco ISD and entering McLennan Community College and will focus on increasing college completion at local colleges.
Natalie Kelinske, senior director of communications and donor services, management and staff for the Waco Foundation, said the foundation has kept in mind Duncan’s wish to ensure local students go through the debt-free university.
“When we found out about his very generous gift, it gave us the opportunity to take a look at the whole program and say, ‘Ok, now we have this super generous gift, which can we do to continue his legacy?’ said Kelinske.
The Duncan Scholars Program will continue this initiative by offering seven full scholarships to MCC as well as a student emergency expense fund, in hopes of providing more services to more students in the future.
This year’s class of winners includes 18 students who, like Guadarrama Perea, earned an Associate’s degree from MCC after graduating from high school. Kelinske said the number had slowly increased as more students were able to take advantage of dual credit.
“I think it’s such a testament to McLennan Community College and Waco ISD and surrounding ISDs because they’re really working together to make this happen and it’s huge for our local student population because they can graduate high school and have their first two years of college at the same time,” Kelinske said. “So you focus on the last two years, it keeps costs down and that’s just a huge advantage we have here. Very grateful.”
Alyssa Summersett, another Baylor full-tuition scholarship recipient, took a more traditional route, attending MCC after graduating from Midway High School in 2020. She said that as a Waco native, she always dreamed of attending Baylor, but realized during her senior year of high school that she might not be able to afford it. After qualifying and applying for the grant, she knew what she had to do.
“As soon as I heard about the Baylor scholarship, I realized it was probably my only chance to come to Baylor,” Summersett said.
After learning she had received the award, Summersett said she immediately called her mother and shared the happy moment with her. Passionate about design and media, she said this opportunity would allow her to pursue her career in marketing.
Joseph Sword, the third winner of the full tuition award, said he plans to study communications at Baylor. Sword expressed his gratitude for the opportunity presented to him.
“Thank you to the MAC program and MCC,” Sword said.