RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A celebration was held last week for a special group of high school students who graduated from a program called, ‘Partnership for the Future.’

Most come from low-income homes and are the first in their families to attend college.

The ‘Reaching for the Stars’ celebration was held Thursday, August 3 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. It featured the achievements of 44 graduates who earned more than $5 million in scholarships.

Meshayla Lumpkin went through the year-round program while attending Hermitage High School. She now works as a summer staff member at ‘Partnership for the Future’ and is a rising sophomore at JMU on a full academic scholarship.

“There were many ACT, SAT prep sessions not only on the ACT and SAT, but helped enhance my study skills both in the classroom and preparing for college,” she said.

Just like Meshayla, all of this year’s graduates come from challenging circumstances and had their grades monitored and were given mentors. They are prepared and eager for the next step.

“Other people would go to college and feel overwhelmed,” Lumpkin said. “I felt way more comfortable and was better able to enhance myself as a student and enjoy my time there my freshman year.”

In order to remain in the program, one must maintain a 3.0 GPA, volunteer and secure an internship each summer.

“You can get a break from your normal life and do other things that your peers aren’t able to do,” Lumpkin added. “That’s what’s greatest about it. You wouldn’t have these resources without the program.”

In all, 195 students participated in the program this year.  The 44 who are on their way to college were recognized at the ceremony.

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