The edge of his dream,
And he watches from inside
With a grateful heart.

Poetry brings Douglas McCollum a lot of joy, even when it hurts a little. That’s the way he feels about graduation this weekend. “It’s tough to not be able to have the ceremony,” he says. “The ceremony wasn’t just for me; to not be able to celebrate with my family is what I’m really going to miss.”

The High Point Central graduate began his career at High Point University in 2016 as part of the first class of Say Yes Guilford scholars. “To be able have that scholarship, and not to have to worry about a meal plan or how I was going to pay for books or tuition meant a whole lot to me and my family as well.”

Family is important to McCollum. “I wanted to make my family proud: my parents, my grandparents, my cousins, my aunts and my uncles.” As the first in his family to attend college, he’s done that and much more. The Say Yes scholarship, McCollum says, gave him opportunities to explore his passions; poetry was one of them. “I worked with the Community Writing Center at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. We were able to start a poetry program for 6-8 graders.” He helped students at Penn-Griffin Middle School and Kirkman Park Elementary learn to express themselves through their writing and encouraged them to share their words at a “Poetry Project Showcase” this past March. It changed him. “I’ve seen a lot of growth not only in them, but because of them, in myself.”

McCollum stands ready to graduate and begin work on his master’s degree in strategic communications also at HPU. He expects his career might take him away from the Triad, but he hopes not for long. “I see the promise that is in this city, and I see what it is capable of. I would love to come home and do some work at home. It has always been a goal of mine to do something for my city.”

He talks about teaching or nonprofit work, but for now he says his heart is full. “I’m just grateful for the Say Yes Scholarship, and grateful to have been part of High Point University and my city of High Point; and I’m grateful for the people I’ve met in the process.”

High Point University is a Limited Local Higher Education Partner with Say Yes Guilford. Each year this partnership makes five scholarships for full tuition and fees available to qualifying students with a family income below $75,000 and five Say Yes Choice Grants (a $5000 award) available to qualifying students with a family income above $75,000. HPU joins more than 100 private schools in the Say Yes Compact awarding scholarships each year to GCS graduates.

Say Yes Guilford encourages every GCS senior to register for the scholarships, and registration is open now through June 1 at sayyesguilford.org.

Say Yes Guilford continues to support our scholars in college and high school seniors applying for scholarships through phone calls, emails and via our website, sayyesguilford.org. Since its inception, Say Yes Guilford has awarded over $8.6 million to GCS graduates, and our partnership with over 100 private colleges and universities provided another $11.3 million for a total impact of over $20 million.

Say Yes Guilford is committed to providing access to support services and scholarships designed to prepare Guilford County Schools’ students for success in college, career and life.