Breakfast of Champions Benefits Burleson Students
Burleson is 90 students closer to its ultimate objective of providing every high school graduate from Burleson with an opportunity to attend college. That summarizes the exciting message Mayor Ken Shetter brought to Burleson leaders Thursday.
The largest group of students since the program began in 2008, 69 first-year and 21 second-year college students who attend Hill College were honored at the Breakfast of Champions. The students showed their appreciation by greeting and serving breakfast to their benefactors. Shetter said more than $130,000 was raised at the breakfast last year, so it is an important reason why the second-year scholarships have been added to the program.
“Providing college funding for all these students is one of the most forward-thinking investments a community could possibly make, not only for the students but for the vitality of the community itself,” said Nancy Holland, dean of Hill College’s Burleson campus. “We feel so fortunate to be part of this and to have these bright, promising students coming through our programs on their way to successful lives.”
Kristen Reynolds, a 2011 BHS graduate, who recently completed her associate degree in liberal arts from Hill College spoke highly of her experience at Hill College. “Since it’s a small college, the teachers really connect with the students. Dean Holland was always there to help and offer encouragement.” Reynolds is now majoring in elementary education at Texas Wesleyan University in Burleson.
She was one of two former BOF students who spoke, confirming the importance of the fund in their lives. Lacy Green, a 2008 BHS graduate who went on to complete a bachelor of science degree in biology at Tarleton State University said, “This scholarship opportunity was my second chance. Ya’ll changed my life.” Green hopes to work in wildlife management and conservation.
“We recognize as a community that investing in the education of individuals is the best investment we can make in the economic success of our community,” Shetter said. “We are retaining some of the best and brightest right here in our community.”
The special honoree this year was retired history teacher Michael Galasso, Champion for Education. Reynolds was one of Galasso’s students.
Shetter said Galasso contributed to the fund for years. “When we found out he was a teacher at Burleson High School, we were astounded and inspired that he would make that kind of commitment on a teacher’s salary.”
In accepting, Galasso said, “If every person can help one student, collectively we can help them all.” He said his contribution is a way of giving back to the community that changed his life by giving him the opportunity to teach. “The second reason was to be able to help all seniors whom I have taught … to be able to fulfill their dreams regardless of class average or family finances, and knowing I might have contributed to this is more important to me than all my other career pursuits throughout my life.”
“We are one of the only communities in America that say ‘If you live here, you get to go to college,” Shetter said.
The Burleson Opportunity Fund was created with a mission to change the expectations of students, teachers, and parents to include the idea that all Burleson high school graduates will have the opportunity to attain higher education and to cultivate the economic development benefits of expanding the attainment of post-secondary degrees and career certifications.
Since the inception of the BOF in 2008:
- 225 Students have received Burleson Opportunity Scholarships to-date
- The total tuition paid for these young scholars to-date is $429,045.34
- BOF students have successfully completed over 4400 college credit hours
- The average GPA of BOF scholars is 2.85 (average for freshman is 2.29)
- BOF average retention rate is 75% (average for freshman is 60%)
- 95% of the funds raised by the Burleson Opportunity Fund go directly to fund scholarships