by Rebecca Sanders, TJC Director of Public Affairs and Media Relations

Jazmin Dominguez has worked diligently to keep a promise she made four years ago. A senior at Legacy High in Tyler, Jazmin committed with other classmates her freshman year to the TJC Promise, which involves fulfilling four years of academic, persistence and community service requirements. In return, Tyler Junior College promised to provide Jazmin and her classmates two years of tuition and fees if they successfully achieved the standards of the program. 

Now Jazmin’s hard work is about to pay off. In addition to being a Promise Scholar, Jazmin has distinguished herself as a TJC Presidential Honors Scholar due to her outstanding academic achievements. Jazmin will benefit from a full ride to Tyler Junior College for two years.

The TJC Promise helps East Texas students achieve their educational goals in high school and college and offers a pathway for them to earn a college education. It is a six-year, comprehensive program that spans from ninth grade through the first two years of college. Participants sign up during the first semester of their freshman year of high school and promise to maintain excellence in academics, attendance and service.

In 2014, the Rusk TJC Citizens Promise became Texas’ first community-based promise program when it was created in partnership with the community of Rusk, Citizens 1st Bank, the Perkins family, TJC and the Tyler Junior College Foundation. The Rusk TJC Citizens Promise offered TJC scholarships to qualifying Rusk High School seniors, and its first cohort graduated from TJC in May 2016. 

The TJC Promise initiative was established in 2016 to underwrite two years of tuition and fees to eligible high school students within TJC’s tax district. The first cohort of TJC Promise scholars included 385 students who entered TJC in Fall 2020. These students also benefit from dedicated support services to help facilitate their collegiate experience at the College.

This year, 1,950 ninth-grade students in the 17 participating high schools signed up for the TJC Promise, making the 2024 graduating class the largest group since the program’s beginning. Currently, there are over 700 high school seniors who have qualified as a TJC Promise scholar.

Recently, Tyler Junior College and Tyler ISD officials recognized 121 high school seniors who are eligible to receive the TJC Promise Scholarship. 

“There are a lot of promise programs, but TJC really has been one of the vanguards in making sure that the students of their city and community are successful, and that the cost of college is not a barrier for you in acquiring a post-secondary credential or degree,” Tyler ISD Superintendent Dr. Marty Crawford told the high school seniors.

TJC President Dr. Juan E. Mejia encouraged the students as well and stated, “We want you to dream big. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough. Whatever you do, do it to the point of excellence. We are proud of you and whatever it is you want to accomplish, we want to be a part of it.”

Jazmin Dominguez already has big dreams. As she enters TJC this fall, she plans to major in business and eventually work in business finance. She can see herself possibly helping others as a financial advisor. “This opportunity is once-in-a lifetime; not everyone gets it,” Jazmin said. “For me to have a scholarship is a big privilege.

“I’m not going to have to pay anything out of pocket because this scholarship covers everything that I need. Having a scholarship gives me a good foundation for starting college and entering my adulthood being debt-free. I can start saving money and using it for other things in my future such as buying a house, a car or saving up to get my master’s degree in business.”

Fulfilling her promise was not always easy but Jazmin was determined. As she started high school, she set a goal to be at the top of her class. She will reach that goal, graduating among the top three percent of the class of almost 500. “This is one of the biggest goals I had set for myself and I’m glad that I’ve accomplished it. This last year I’ve had a few set backs in my personal life; I didn’t give up hope and kept pushing through.”

When asked what advice she would offer students entering high school, Jazmin said, “Don’t give up. Try hard. Your hard work will end up paying off. If you get the opportunity to join the TJC Promise, do all the requirements. Be involved in school anyway you can be because being involved opens so many doors for you.” 

Jazmin knows about being involved as she has participated in numerous organizations including Rho Kappa Social Studies Honor Society, National Honor Society and Hispanic Honors Society in which she served as president. “I was able to learn leadership skills,” she said, and she also helped in the community, putting in numerous service hours through the various organizations.  

Success coaches and new building dedicated to Promise 

TJC Promise Program Director Matthew Ramirez along with success coaches Augusta Robinson and Gaje Wiseman, welcomed its first class of Promise scholars last fall. The College also designated a building on its main campus for TJC Promise and College Scholarships.

 “This new space allows us to meet with prospective students and parents who are participating in TJC’s Promise Programs or who have questions about TJC’s general scholarships,” said Ramirez. “Also, success coaches will meet with current Promise students attending TJC to assist them with reaching their academic potential.” 

Participating high schools include All Saints Episcopal School, Bishop TK Gorman, Brook Hill School, Chapel Hill High School, Christian Heritage School, Cumberland Academy High School, Early College High School, Good Shepherd School, Grace Community School, Grand Saline High School, Kings Academy Christian School, Lindale High School, Tyler Classical Academy, Tyler High School, Tyler Legacy High, Van High School and Winona High School.

 For information on the TJC Promise, go to TJC.edu/Promise