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Wall of Acceptance Pushes Students Dreaming of College

BLOOMINGTON - Getting into college takes a lot of hard work. For some students, the application process
BLOOMINGTON - Getting into college takes a lot of hard work. For some students, the application process can be the most daunting part. That’s why one man is working to ensure that students now have a brighter future.

"I don't know where I'd be without Mr. Jay. He means everything to me," said senior Kelsey Kelly.

Jay Shannon says even the most talented students can have anxiety when thinking about the future.

"They're really hesitant on even applying for college," said Shannon.

Shannon's counseling students as part of Bloomington's Project Oz, to start early and apply often for college.

That included Kelly.

"I had low hopes. I didn't think I'd be accepted," she said.

But after buckling down, and applying to several schools, Kelly's received four acceptance letters already.

"I was just so excited and I texted Mr. Jay and told him, and he was excited for me, and I couldn't wait to come in and put it on the wall," said Kelly.

Shannon wanted to give the kids a chance to showcase their success, and Kelly's letter started the Wall of Acceptance.

"It was amazing that after one student got accepted, everybody else said, well, I have to fill out my applications too," said Shannon.

That included her classmate Tiquan Hamur, who really wanted to study mechanical engineering. But he worried his grades and test scores weren't up to par.

"Most people doubted me about ever going to college," said Hamur.

"I said, all right, you should tell your story and in your personal statement and honestly, he wrote one of the most phenomenal personal statements that I've read in nine years," said Shannon.

Hamur received a letter saying he'd been accepted to Alabama State, his top choice, and he couldn't wait to add his letter to the wall.

“It was a relief because I felt like as long as I graduate like I'm supposed to, then I get a second chance to do what I'm capable of doing in school," said Hamur.

This wall now bears 56 acceptance letters and counting, but Shannons says the greatest reward is making these kids believe in themselves.

"If they don't apply, they don't have a chance," said Shannon.

For many, that's all they ever wanted.

The program has worked with more than 50 students to apply for college. Shannon says the wall represents 30 of those acceptance letters, and they're still getting letters in the mail.
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