05/26/11 — Rosewood counselor sets his sights on scholarship dollars

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Rosewood counselor sets his sights on scholarship dollars

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 26, 2011 1:46 PM

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Greg Lamm, standing, counselor at Rosewood High School, discusses financial aid opportunities with seniors at the school. From left, Holly Price, recipient of a $600 scholarship to attend Wayne Community College, where she will enter the registered nursing program; Chelsea Sawkiw, who will study animal science at Mount Olive College; and Paige Herring, attending agriculture education at MOC.

Nineteen of the 120 seniors at Rosewood High School have received more than $13,000 in scholarships to attend Wayne Community College in the fall.

But the impressive part of that story, says Jack Kannan, executive director of the WCC Foundation, which awarded the funding, goes beyond the students.

"It's the passion of the counselor," he said. "If it wasn't for the passion of the counselor, Greg Lamm, pushing, pushing, pushing for students, helping his students, making them aware of it, they would only get their five (scholarships) like everybody else."

Lamm, a counselor at the school for 14 years, is "unique," Kannan said, in how he customizes his efforts for each student.

Because while the scholarship awards, which range from $600 to $800, are renewable each year, it's Lamm who "gets them in the door," Kannan said.

"I just go get them," Lamm said of the financial aid option.

While many high school guidance counselors might take aim at larger universities and colleges, Lamm said in this economic climate, it's wise to widen the scope in pursuing every available resource.

"If they're going to go to Wayne -- and most of them do, coming from a small school because it fits them better -- I will track them down and make them fill out the application," he said. "You have definitely got to cater to your students, what their needs are.

"Even though we go after quite a few larger scholarships, this is one they can get and it does add up."

The financial aid process might heat up this time of year, as graduation looms. But the bulk of the effort starts much sooner, Lamm said.

"A lot of (scholarships) were attained earlier in the year when testing was not a priority and you have a little bit more time to devote to scholarships," he said. "Most of the scholarships, probably the bigger ones anyway, the deadlines are going to be around December or January."

Things pick up again in February, as students scurry to obtain transcripts and meet deadlines. It might be a last ditch effort, but most realize they would be foolish to pass up on the possibility of having college money.

"A lot of students, even in the top 20 percent, are going to go to Wayne for two years because they can stay home, go for two years and then transfer out. It's just a perfect fit for them," he said.

And while his role is to send students in the best direction, Lamm quickly points out that he is not alone in the effort to advocate for student aid.

"I announce it, the teachers let the students know if they're interested, to apply," he explained. "The Ag department (at Rosewood) gets a lot of scholarships. It's almost like a cumulative effort of all of us."

Many of the students, too, ambitiously pursue scholarships and awards each year.

This is not the largest pool of scholarship recipients from the school planning to attend Wayne Community College, though. Lamm said one year Rosewood had 22 student awards.

"I think this is the second most we have had," he said. "One thing I do is encourage those students that aren't quite sure they're going to Wayne -- they may have applied to larger institutions -- to go ahead and apply to Wayne as a back-up."

All told, his school can boast quite a haul in financial aid, despite only having 120 seniors.

"We might be the smallest high school (in Wayne County Public Schools) but we actually end up second or third in scholarship earnings," he said. "We have approximately 37 students that have received scholarships this year, 91 scholarships ... Mount Olive College probably gave us seven, Tri-County gave us seven or eight and Barton College gave us 13 scholarships.

"Right now I'm at $2.3 million in financial aid."

But perhaps the most rewarding aspect is a bi-product that goes beyond dollars and cents, the counselor says.

"I see an increase in academics, everything else that goes along with it, almost like a drive to finish school," he said. "As they go (forward), they know they have got this money to start with. It puts a little more drive into them."