CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Ameer West is marching to the beat of his own drum. The Hermitage High School graduate is now on his way to college on a full band scholarship.
"My next chapter is I'm going off to Norfolk State to major in music education. I'm excited, I can't wait," West said.
West is among the ranks of the 500 Partnership for the Future (PFF) student leaders who are poised to make their mark on the world thanks to a college readiness program that prepares students for success.
Both West and Camille Martin, a rising JMU freshman who earned the prestigious Centennial Scholarship, agree that the PFF program has been pretty life-changing.
At the non-profit's Reaching For The Stars ceremony, they were recognized for earning more than $15 million in college scholarships.
President and CEO Dionne Henderson said it has been amazing to watch the students learn, work and grow.
"Our students have gone through so much over the last couple of years. Their lives have been disrupted. But our students persevered, maintained their grades and it's really exciting to see them fulfill their dreams of going to college as many of our students are first-generation students," Henderson said.
Both West and Martin already are planning for what their futures could look like.
"I'll be majoring in psychology with a minor in African American studies. I kinda want to do a lot. I want to, by the end of it, become a sports psychologist," Martin said.
"Go to college and get a degree in music so I can hopefully become a band director," West said.
PFF leaders said a critical component of their program is workforce readiness. Students appreciate that and say that it helps prepare them for real life.
"Our students typically intern for three consecutive summers. Paid internships while they are in high school and we match up to $2,000 that they save in a VA 529 account," Henderson said.
The student leaders are keeping the beat and keeping their sights set on a successful future that awaits.
"It's a gift that God gave me. He didn't give it to me for no reason. He gave it to me for a reason. I feel like me getting the scholarship, they see something in me and he gave something to me. Like I need to take it seriously and do something with it and not play around with it," West said.