A distinguished group of students walks the halls at Amarillo College. Before their time at AC even begins, members already have applied and interviewed for the program and set their expectations to maximum. That’s just the beginning, and the rest spans from high grade point averages in their honors courses to extracurricular trips across the globe. The Presidential Scholars are a highly exclusive group that normally is joined in the months leading up to the beginning of the school year. What makes the organization unusual is that it requires its aspiring applicants to look into their futures as AC Badgers before they arrive for the fall term. “It’s a small learning community,” said Lesley Ingham, Honors program co-coordinator. “That means that they stay together during their time here.” Ingham said the scholars are ambassadors for the college. The small learning community is made up of students who finished at the top of their high school classes. Ingham said scholars have be in the top 10 percent of their high school classes and have taken advanced placement courses. “They need to have had leadership roles in their high school years and been active on campus,” Ingham said. Presidential Scholar hopefuls apply online and are visited by program officials for an interview process and an invitation to become a member. Upon a successful interview, the presidential scholars-to-be arrive on campus and are placed in core honors courses while focusing on their regular degree plans. “That’s really fun for the scholars, because right when they get to AC they have a built-in group that they’re a part of,” Ingham said. The scholars’ responsibilities stretch far beyond the classroom. Members can be seen lending help to campus activities such as Fallfest or volunteering for community outreach efforts such as Habitat for Humanity while maintaining a 3.5-plus grade point average. Members receive multiple perks and rewards for being scholars.They receive various scholarships an iPad and a travel opportunity. “Every year, we take them on an international trip; this year it’s Lithuania and Poland,” Ingham said. Ingham said the trip is inspired by the AC Common Reader book, Between Shades of Gray. Jordan Morris is a second-year member. “It is designed to help us develop skills and relationships that will give us the edge in the professional realm such as travel, public speaking, volunteer work and meeting community leaders,” Morris said. He said his role as a second-year Presidential Scholar is to use his knowledge and experiences in the program to mentor the incoming students.
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