This time next year, four friends from East St. Louis Senior High School will be well into their post-secondary education at Lincoln College of Technology in Indiana.
The friends and nine other classmates recently visited Lincoln Tech, and all have been accepted into the college for the fall semester.
The four friends -- Tywand Perry, Javonte Brown, Tarvine Drake and Daquan Robinson -- have all decided to attend Lincoln Tech. The other nine students are still considering their options for post-secondary education.
How did all of this come about?
Daquan, 18, said admissions representative Dustin Sprouls got his attention during a presentation to students at East St. Louis High's Career and Technical Education Program in the fall.
"I'm pretty sure it caught all of our attention," 18-year-old Tywand said.
"The school was great," Daquan said. "I liked the environment. The college is hands-on."
Classmate Tarvine, 17, also liked the hands-on classes at Lincoln Tech. "I thought it would be a great place for me to go," he said.
Despite getting a track scholarship to a university, Javonte said he choose to attend Lincoln Tech because it's a "small hands-on college."
"We're that school that students come to that are hands-on and career-oriented," said John Martin, regional director of admissions for Lincoln College of Technology. "We try to reach as many students no matter what their background is. We look for students who want to win."
Javonte's mother Carmen Mosley said she's proud of her son and excited for him. "I was impressed with the program," she said of Lincoln Tech. "I think this is something he will excel in."
Martin said college officials are "very careful" when selecting students to accept. "Students that we choose to come to school are engaged in high school and have good attendance," Martin said, noting they also have strong family support. "We encourage mom and dad to be involved. We want to make sure we have the right student that has the desire and motivation to succeed."
Sprouls said Lincoln College of Technology is not just interested in getting students enrolled. "We care about these kids and their futures and their families, and we want to see them succeed," he said.
Program coordinator Debra Humphrey-Morgan said representatives of different companies and post-secondary institutions are invited to talk to students in the career and technology program at East St. Louis School District 189 to increase their exposure to what's available after high school.
School officials at District 189 are helping the young men who will be attending Lincoln Tech with scholarship applications.
Tarvine said he's been awarded one scholarship so far and is working on other applications.
Humphrey-Morgan credited the students' success in part to their instructors. "They wouldn't be sitting here if it wasn't for their teachers," she said.
Tywand, Javonte, Tarvine and Daquan all agreed.
Daquan praised his construction teacher Willie Harris. "He's a great teacher," Daquan said. "He opened it up to me doing construction."
Tarvine said Harris always looks out for them. "He makes sure we make some good choices," he said.
Tywand said welding instructor Michael Jackson "never lets me slip. He keeps me on top of my game," he said.
Jackson said he's pleased the four young men "get an opportunity to further their education and get that degree."
Electronics instructor Terrell Herring encouraged Javonte to pursue a career as an electrician.
Herring said Javonte and his three classmates are role models for others. "They are assured what they want to do and go after it," he said. "These young men are active about their education."
Three of the friends -- Tywand, Tarvine and Daquan -- will all live together in a student-housing apartment at Lincoln Tech.
The East St. Louis High seniors won't have a long break between high school and college. They start at Lincoln Tech on July 31. All four students will be in the 15-month associate's degree program.
After graduating from Lincoln Tech, Daquan said he plans to start his own diesel automotive business and renovate houses on the side. He wants to take welding classes at Southwestern Illinois College as well.
Like Daquan, Tywand wants to open a diesel automotive business. He said he'll come back to East St. Louis "if jobs are available."
Tarvine also is interested in opening his own business after completing Lincoln Tech. "I love construction," he said.
Javonte aspires to be an electrician and wants to work for Ameren. "I plan to start small and build my way up," he said. Javonte plans to also complete the 10-month machinery program at the college.
For more information on Lincoln College of Technology, visit http://www.lincolncollegeoftechnology.com.
Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or firstname.lastname@example.org.