A local high school grad has set the standard for a new Mercer University scholarship which helps students with special financial needs pay for their education.
For 18 year old Wahaj Khan, a college education at Mercer University in Macon has always been just right down the street. Khan attended Central High School and is the first student to receive a new scholarship endowed by local businessman Benjamin W. Griffith the third.
"I didn't expect to get it," Khan said of the scholarship. "A couple nights before I had a dream that I didn't get it, so when I got the call I was like Oh my God!"
Griffith pledged 2.5 million dollars to Mercer, a total that the University is matching to help gifted students from Bibb County high schools fund their college education.Wahaj was just one of those students,
"We were very impressed by not only his academic strength--being part of the IB program at Central as well as taking AP classes at the same time was great--so just him being a well rounded student really got him the scholarship," said Mercer Admissions Counselor Diana Harrington.
Wahaj says his dreams of going to a university like Mercer started when he was only 5 years old, when his parent's left Pakistan to pursue a better life for their family
"The sole reason my parents came here was for our education," he said "So I don't want them to feel that they came here in vain. They left their family, their mothers--their fathers back home and brought us here for our education. I don't want them to feel as though we let them down. I want to show them that I'm trying to make them proud."
Wahaj says if he could give students around Bibb county one piece of advice it would be to challenge themselves. For him, it paid off.
"if you're out doing clubs you get to meet more people you get more of a social life, you get to show your character more you get to build character, and you get to help others doing it," Wahaj said.
As college fast approaches for Wahaj, he hopes he can instill a love of learning in his little brothers, and maybe inspire other kids in the area to be more excited about their education.
A Warner Robins man is moving more than 8,000 miles away to join the Peace Corps.
In less than a week, 26-year-old Jake Carpenter will pack up the bare necessities, perhaps a digital camera, and he'll say goodbye to family and friends.
"I have been spending a lot of time thinking about the people that I love and all the people that I'm going to miss and that's been sort of difficult."
A former Northside High athlete, Carpenter is a Mercer graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Engineering. He hopes his education and experience will help improve the lives of others.
"My background in that and specifically my training at USF which is a development engineering program I think will enable me to help people in a developing world address those issues."
Jake will spend the first three months living with a host family in Uganda where he'll get a firsthand look at the language and culture. Then he'll serve two years, living just like everyone else in the community.
"What I want to accomplish is to go to my community to meet them, to understand them, to know them and to trust them and for them to gain my trust and to help them accomplish the goals that they want to accomplish."
Carpenter will join more than 200 Georgia residents currently serving in the Peace Corps.
Peach County High School principal, Bruce Mackey, used school funds to support a fraternity brother running for a state level fraternity office.
The Georgia Professional Standards Commission investigated Mackey, and suspended him without pay for writing a $100 check.
Mackey admitted what he did was wrong, and sees why his actions were wrong. But, he also said he didn't realize writing the check was wrong.
Mackey wrote the check as a way to give back to the civic groups who help give scholarships to Peach County students. He says he was supporting the fraternity brother because he is a 'critical player in the school receiving those scholarships'.
Mackey was suspended for two weeks without pay earlier this year, and this is now on his permanent teaching record.
"It was an honest mistake. It was a learning experience and you live and learn. I've tried to put that behind me and chalk it up as a learning experience. And knowing that I'm not going be doing that anymore, I don't want to jeopardize my career for a hundred dollars," Mackey says.
The case is now closed, and Mackey maintains his role as principal. He says he wants to use this experience to make him a better person, a better administrator, and hopefully a better role model for his students.
Residents of Jeffersonville grab there meals on the go at Robinson Fried Chicken.
"The cook's make it real good, they can really cook," says Roseann Williams, customer.
It's soul food. Fried chicken, collard greens, cornbread, and peach cobbler are just a few of the menu items that keep business buzzing. Owner Geraldine Robinson and her family began feed the people of Jeffersonville back in 1979.
"They've been here forever. They used to be at a different location right down the street, then they moved here. I remember them when I was little," says Walt Clark, customer.
The secret to their success is home cooking served up with a side of southern hospitality.
"I think it's a great family environment, and people off the streets feel like they're at home," says Audrey Hart, owner's niece.
Customers, who are more like family, agree with Hart.
"Everybody knows everybody. It's like going to a family reunion," says Ruth Baltimore.
It's this atmosphere that keeps regulars coming back for more, and new faces stopping in for a good meal.
"We meet new people everyday, and we enjoy serving hot delicious meals to everybody," says Hart.