- Associated Press - Saturday, February 14, 2015

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - The University of Memphis plans to provide support services for more freshmen next year.

The school’s First Scholars program currently has a limit of 20 freshmen each year. The Commercial Appeal (https://bit.ly/1MagvS2) reports the university is receiving more funding from the Suder Foundation, which will allow officials to offer the highest-impact elements to 80 more students. The program offers help to first-generation college students.

The support could hold significance for the future of Shelby County, where more than 63 percent of adults do not hold a college degree.

The university was one of seven across the nation to get funding three years ago to start the program. So far, 90 percent of the first year’s class is still on track for graduation.

The program has been enormously helpful to 19-year-old Collin McCain, who said it was a huge challenge given that his father tried and quit.

“Without this, I wouldn’t be here,” said McCain, who gestured to the 19 other freshmen who, in five months, have become his emotional support, his courage and his best friends.

“I have nobody else to help me,” McCain said. “No one who can show me what I need to do.”

Charles Frame, First Scholar coordinator, said the students take a class that introduces them to college in their first semester, they live in the same dorm and help each other with homework. The meet twice a month to talk about issues that come up and plan service projects.

In addition to support services, the students also receive a $20,000 scholarship over four years.

“They get a lot of one-on-one counseling with their mentors who are juniors in the program. Each one is building a strategic plan with me in bi-weekly or monthly meetings,” Frame said. “We’re making short-term academic goals and long-term academic and professional goals that include internships and opportunities to study abroad.”

The expanded group will live in a new dorm going up on campus and they’ll get a faculty mentor who will help plan projects and social events for the group.

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Information from: The Commercial Appeal, https://www.commercialappeal.com

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