Wight advocates Dream Weber to Ben Lomond seniors

(Source: Zac Williams / Ogden School District) Ben Lomond High School drum line perform to the crowd of seniors at the
(Source: Zac Williams) The Ben Lomond High School drum line performs during the Utah College Application Week presentation Thursday.

The statewide initiative Utah College Application Week is a pilot program among eight Utah high schools, aiming to give high school seniors from across the state the chance to complete one or more college applications. Weber State University President Charles Wight seized this opportunity to speak to seniors at Ben Lomond High School on Thursday.

“Weber State is an open-enrollment university,” Wight told the crowd of students. “That doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee you that it will be difficult. It will be really hard to succeed, but you are welcome to come to Weber State University.”

The president explained that the newly renovated Dream Weber scholarship program, beginning in spring 2014, aids students who would not otherwise be able attend WSU for financial reasons. Dream Weber allows Utah residents whose families earn less than $40,000 a year to extend Federal Pell Grants over a longer period of time.

“(It) makes sure all of your tuition and fees are paid for up to eight semesters of full-time work,” Wight said. “That’s a full-ride scholarship.”

More information about the scholarship can be found at Weber.edu/DreamWeber.

The presentation included Ben Lomond Principal Dale Wilkinson, who emphasized the importance of working toward higher education.

“Sometimes we think, ‘Aw, I can’t go to college’ . . . but the president just took other excuses off the table,” Wilkinson said. “If you want to work hard and you want to go to college, there’s a way for you to do it. You just have to want to do it.”

During the presentation, Wight also explained the deadlines for WSU admissions and scholarship applications, and the importance of applying for FAFSA.

“The education that I got gave me choices . . . and I want you to have really, really good choices in what you decide to do for your career,” Wight said. “When you graduate from Weber State University, you will, on average, get a job that will pay you about $20,000 a year more than if you didn’t have a bachelor’s degree. You can expect to be paid back (your) tuition about 35 times every year for the rest of your working life.”

Justin Kinsella, a senior at Ben Lomond High School, said he attended Wight’s presentation to help him decide between Utah State University and WSU.

“I just wanted to learn more about Weber State. I’m on the fence right now . . . Weber State is already a little bit more appealing because it’s closer to home.”

Ogden School District Superintendent Brad Smith told the students that the choice to attend higher education is one that will allow them more choices. “I don’t like being told what to do. If I hadn’t gone to college . . . someone else would tell me what to do.”

Wilkinson agreed, saying education allows for greater agency.

“The more educated you get, the more opportunities you have . . . so you choosing to be educated gives you choices,” he said.

Smith told the seniors to take control of their own futures. “You can decide to take control and set your own course.”