MARIETTA, OHIO—The Educational Talent Search (ETS) program at Washington State Community (WSCC) will continue to encourage middle and high school students to pursue higher education thanks to the receipt of more than $2 million in continuation funding from the Federal TRIO grant.
Established at WSCC in the 1990s, ETS has worked with thousands of students from grades 6-12. The program is designed to identify and assist individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in higher education. The students are provided academic, career, and financial counseling as well as encouragement to graduate from high school and continue on to complete their postsecondary education. “This grant makes it possible for students to receive access to incredible resources, support, and activities, at absolutely no cost to them or their families,” explained Donna Muntz, Director of WSCC’s College Access and ETS programs.
Muntz, who has worked with ETS for nearly three decades, said she has seen countless students benefit from their participation in the program. “I can’t begin to count how many students that I have worked with personally who graduated college and went on to have amazing careers. Everything from doctors and engineers, to teachers and entrepreneurs. We build them up to help them realize they have within themselves to become anything they want.”
Dalton Kincaid is one of Muntz’s countless success stories. She began working with him in 2008 when he was in 7th grade and he stuck with the program throughout high school. In 2014, in addition to receiving his high school diploma from Morgan County High School, he also graduated from WSCC summa cum laude with an associate degree in liberal arts, thanks to the encouragement and support of Muntz and the early college option, College Credit Plus.
“Educational Talent Search provided me with opportunities to learn more about the college application and interview processes. Furthermore, ETS provided free transportation to and from various universities for tours, help completing the FAFSA, and supplies for high school graduates to use in college,” Kincaid explained. “Donna Muntz was incredibly helpful in perfecting my resume, filling out college applications, and counseling me on any academic, career, or financial concern.”
After finishing at WSCC, Kincaid transferred to The Ohio State University and graduated magna cum laude in 2018 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Spanish with a minor in Biology. He is currently attending Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he has already earned a Bachelor of Science in Vision and Science and will graduate with his Doctor of Optometry degree in May 2022.
“I’m grateful for Donna and ETS’s commitment to ensuring my success in college and beyond,” Kincaid acknowledged.
The primary focus of ETS is to support students from first-generation and low-income families who need assistance with preparing for and attending college in the fall after high school graduation. Grant regulations stipulate that a minimum of two out of every three students enrolled must fall into this category.
Muntz and her staff service 15 schools and 740 students from Washington, Meigs, Morgan, and Noble counties. Their students regularly meet with them, get to attend special programs, and are eligible to take part in educational and cultural field trips. She explained that they begin working with students in junior high to encourage them to start thinking about careers and what they want to do with their lives. By the time the participants are in high school, they’re going on college visits, talking to them about going to college, how to pay for college and how to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). “Our basic goal is to get the students to enroll in college directly after high school graduation and successfully obtain a college degree or certificate,” said Muntz.
The program has five objectives required to maintain its grant, including students being promoted to the next grade; graduation from high school; inclusion of rigorous learning—College Credit Plus classes, dual enrollment and/or honors classes; college enrollment; and 6 years tracking of students post-graduation to ensure they earn at least a certificate or associate degree.
Inclusion in the ETS program is through an application process. Muntz and her team are currently accepting new members. The link for the ETS online application is: https://www.wscc.edu/community/college-access/educational-talent-search/ or call the ETS office at 740-568-1924.
ETS is among eight programs in the Federal TRIO Program that is funded entirely by the US Department of Education.