Program celebrates 20 years of helping students

By Staff Writer Taylor Simpson

The Presidential Mentors Academy will celebrate their 20th Anniversary  Oct. 6.

The PMA will host “A Night of Class and Elegance, Celebrating 20 Years of Success,” at the Radisson in Sheffield.

Former and current PMA students are welcome to attend the formal event with their guests. 

This program provides financial support and mentoring to underrepresented students.

“PMA looks for opportunities to create a positive image of the college environment, and it fosters an appreciation of cultural differences, while also increasing the number of underrepresented minority students in various majors,” said Ernestine Davis, director of the Presidential Mentors Academy, in a university press release.

Davis, former professor in the Anderson College of Nursing, has been the Director of PMA since its creation in 1997.

Davis retired from the college of nursing in 2016, and she said she wanted to devote more of her free time to PMA.

Students in the program have a 90 percent graduation rate, most maintain a 3.0 GPA or better and many continue on to get their masterís degree as well, Davis said.

Davis said PMA offers UNAís only minority scholarship and has grown from supporting three graduates in 1997 to approximately 300 graduates since then.

There are currently 59 students in the program.

“We’re anxious to celebrate this milestone,” she said. “It’s been a long journey to get to this point, so we want to celebrate and spread the word about the PMA program and the benefits it brings to students and the campus.”

Students in the program not only have to meet UNA’s scholarship requirements, but also requirements specific to PMA.

PMA’s requirements include meeting once a month with Davis and providing her with a progress report each semester, according to the press release. 

The PMA scholarship increased the number of minority students in various majors throughout the years.

The scholarship program targets high school seniors from underrepresented groups who have completed the admissions process for UNA, according to the press release.

Accepted students are supported throughout their time at UNA.

Freshman students attend a Student Orientation Advising Registration session in June and are admitted to UNA during the month of July, according to the press release. 

Students in the program receive a $2,000 minimum yearly scholarship, along with a book scholarship that starts in their sophomore year, according to the

press release.

The tuition scholarship increases yearly as long as students continue to meet scholarship requirements.

“The (PMA) has definitely had a positive impact on my time at UNA,” said senior Jílyrick Woods.

Woods said she is excited to meet with former members and hear their experiences since graduating from UNA.

Junior Grant Gunn said he feels privileged to be a part of the program. 

“It is a unique program that is greatly beneficial to students,” he said. “It has strengthened me as a student.”

For more information about the event, contact Ernestine Davis by phone at (256) 765-4583 or by email at [email protected]