Andrea McDermott wasn’t just the first person in her family to graduate college—she was the first to graduate high school.

Her parents and four older siblings never made it across the graduation stage. Not only did Andrea graduate from Franklin Community High School, she also earned her bachelor’s in political science in 2019 from Ball State.

The 21st Century Scholars program, she said, was the deciding factor in her attending college.

“I came from a low-income family. I knew college wasn’t going to be affordable unless I got a full-ride. I am blessed that I got an education for almost free.”

She stayed on campus to continue her education in the master of public administration program while also working as a graduate assistant in the university’s Office of Governmental Relations. There she helps advocate for higher education in Indiana.

Andrea hopes to have a career serving the public, possibly in a non-profit role. She wants to “do good” and work toward a cause that appeals to her. It may be a better environment or an improved criminal justice system.

Andrea has two younger brothers, too. Christian, 16, is also a 21st Century Scholar.

“The 21st Century Scholars program gives hope to kids who come from low-income families and don’t think they are going to be able to make it,” she said. “Not a lot of states have something this impactful.”

Closing the Gap in Educational Achievement

Ball State University’s 21st Century Scholars have been vital to closing the achievement gap, curbing the brain drain, and more. Want to know how this program has made a difference for our students? Read more of their stories.

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