MARIETTA, OHIO— When you walk in the door of Educational Talent Search (ETS) at Washington State Community College (WSCC), you’re greeted by a bulletin board with images of ETS Awesome Alumni. Each picture represents part of the program’s decades of success. Today, they’re looking to add more smiles to the board.
ETS is a federally funded program sponsored by WSCC and is designed to identify and assist individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in higher education. Donna Muntz, Director of College Access and ETS, explained that each year the program supports more than 800 students from grades 6-12. Its purpose is to encourage members to graduate from high school and continue on to complete their postsecondary education. “We want our students to do well in school and have a desire to go to college after they graduate high school. And we make it possible by equipping them with the necessary tools and knowledge to help them along the way.”
The program has a long track record of success that dates back to its establishment at WSCC in the mid-1990s. Muntz said their most recent statistics show 99-percent of ETS members successfully graduate high school and nearly 70-percent go on to postsecondary education. “These are exceptional numbers that I’m always proud to share, however, it’s the students behind those numbers that mean the most to me. For many, college wasn’t something they ever considered until they joined ETS. This program opens doors to opportunities that some of them never dreamed were possible.”
After 17-years with the ETS program, Muntz said she has had the privilege to work with hundreds of students from throughout Southeast Ohio and has countless fond memories. “I have many students who have gone on to have very successful careers. ETS graduates go on to be engineers, doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, and more. There’s no limit to what they can be and how far they can go, and that’s the message we impress upon them from the beginning.”
ETS Assistant Director Brandi Koscho echoed Muntz’s sentiment about the limitless potential of her students. In her six years with the program, she’s had several members who stand out in her memory, one of whom is Megan Hesson. A 2016 Fort Frye ETS graduate, Hesson has earned a place among the program’s Awesome Alumni. “Being a part of ETS allowed me to create bonds and friendships with not only my peers but also my advisors,” she said in her bulletin board bio. “This is definitely one part of my education that I am greatly thankful for.” After high school, Hesson received her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Marietta College in 2020 and today is teaching preschool at Morgan South in Stockport, Ohio. “I knew Megan was destined for success no matter what path she chose,” Koscho recalled. “She put the time and effort into her education and made it a priority, something we encourage among all of our students. I am so proud of all that she has accomplished.”
ETS members benefit from a range of services, including career counseling and exploration, test taking tips, study skills, tutoring, college planning support, college application fee waivers, ACT fee waivers, financial aid/scholarship assistance, college campus tours, education and cultural activities, and summer camps. Muntz emphasized that the assistance is offered at no cost to the students and their families and, with the exception of summer camps and trips, is provided while the student is at school. “This is a valuable service that’s funded entirely with grant money, and it’s imperative that our parents and guardians are aware that it’s available.”
Muntz and her team work one-on-one with students in Belpre City, Caldwell Exempted, Eastern Local, Fort Frye Local, Frontier Local, Marietta City, Meigs Local, Morgan Local, Warren Local schools as well as Washington County Career Center. She describes the program as a support system for guidance counselors. “Many of our school counselors are often overwhelmed by large numbers of students. Our ETS advisors work closely with them and help shoulder some of that responsibility.”
ETS is among eight programs in the Federal TRIO Program that is funded entirely by the US Department of Education. These services are provided for students in grades 6 to 12 across the nation. For additional information on the Washington State ETS program, visit wscc.edu/ETS.