One of the most inspiring initiatives at the University of Memphis is the Finish Line Program, which targets students who previously attended the University of Memphis and have completed 90 or more credit hours but have regrettably had to abandon their dreams of completing a college degree. Many of these students have demonstrated the ability to be successful in college and are within a single academic year of successful graduation. Yet the primary reason for withdrawal at 90+ hours is exhausted financial aid and related external situations, such as needing to work full-time to support a family.
We are especially pleased to have this wonderful program featured in a blog post by Monica Herk, on the Committee for Economic Development’s website. Herk highlights the impact of this program, writing, “Since being launched in the fall of 2013, 123 Finish Line students have graduated from the University of Memphis at an average cost of $1,649. Over two thirds (68%) of the beneficiaries were women, with an average age of 36.” The entire essay may be found here.
The University of Memphis’s faculty and administrators are very proud of the program and its results. Dr. Richard Irwin, Vice Provost of Academic Innovation and Support Services, says, “The Finish Line continues to thrive thanks to executive-level program support and the collaborative efforts of faculty and staff across campus. A record number of Finish Line students are expected to complete degrees at the end of fall term.”
The students enrolled in Finish Line are equally pleased with the support and opportunities it offers. According to Kendra, who graduated in August 2015, “The Finish Line program changes lives! It gives students another option when we feel as if all options have been exhausted.” Brian, who also graduated in August 2015, was relieved when the program began, “What earning this degree means to me is indescribable. Beyond the impact it will have on future opportunities professionally, it means a great deal personally. Leaving college before completing my degree had been the great regret of my life. I lost a great deal of confidence in myself and the prospects for my and my family’s future. Although I had not given up on my dream, I had run out of options to pay for school and could not see how it would happen. The Finish Line Scholarship was an answer to my prayers. I will eternally be grateful for this opportunity.”
The Finish Line Program is focused on helping students achieve their college goals in an affordable and timely manner, but it is also about giving students opportunities after they finish their degrees. Dwanyel, a December 2014 graduate, summarizes the hope and promise that the program provides: “Through all of my barriers, the Finish Line Program gave me a chance that I did not think would be possible. The bachelor’s degree has opened so many doors for me that no one can shut because I have a piece of paper to back me and say I am skilled and disciplined enough to complete college.”