UNT President Gretchen M. Bataille has been named the 2009 Advocate of the Year by Communities in Schools of North Texas, or CISNT. Bataille is being awarded for her work with UNT's Emerald Eagle Scholars Program, which pays tuition and fees and provides mentoring to academically talented students with high financial need.
She will be formally honored during the organization's annual "Celebrating Successes: Stars, Stetsons and Stilettos" award ceremony at 6 p.m. April 25 in the White Pine Ballroom of the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine. State Sen. Jane Nelson, a UNT alumna and honorary chair of the Celebrating Successes award ceremony, will present the award to Bataille.
"I'm honored to be chosen as the Advocate of the Year, especially because it recognizes the significance and impact of UNT's Emerald Eagle Scholars Program," Bataille says. "This program puts college within reach of students who may be the first in their family to earn a degree and it shows their brothers, sisters and cousins that a college education is possible for them, too."
The Advocate of the Year award, which is being presented for the second year, is given to an individual who champions the spirit of Communities in Schools of North Texas by breaking down barriers to the education of at-risk students. The nonprofit organization works to reduce high school dropout rates among students in Denton and Wise County public schools.
Bataille launched the Emerald Eagle Scholars program with her UNT inauguration in 2007. Since its inception, the Emerald Eagle Scholars program has helped fulfill the dream of going to college for more than 700 students.
The program "opens doors" to the students like those served at CISNT programs, says Dana Smith, director of community investments and volunteerism at CISNT.
"By providing financial aid for school, UNT removes a significant barrier that prevents our students from going on to pursue a college degree that ultimately allows them to break out of the cycle of poverty," Smith adds.
Emerald Eagle Scholars are expected to become actively involved on campus, work an on-campus job, enroll in 15 hours of classes each semester, maintain an overall grade point average of at least 2.5 and graduate in four years. The scholars are supported by mentors both from UNT's student body and from the faculty and staff.
Buddy Price with UNT News Service can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.