Inside the fitness center on Pearl River Community College’s Forrest County campus, students of varying ages lift weights, cycle in spin classes and contort their bodies while practicing yoga—all as part of Zac Bennett’s physical education class. Underneath the clanking of barbels and the spinning whirs of bike chains, however, another deceptively prevalent sound often goes unheard: a deep and empty growling of stomachs.
“A lot of students come into my classes and tell me that they haven’t eaten all day,” Bennett, who serves as the coordinator of wellness and student activities for PRCC’s Forrest County campus. “That’s where I often see financial insecurity in my day-to-day life here. Some students just don’t have the funds to buy lunch, so they go without.”
Financial insecurity is at the root of PRCC’s Costumes for a Cause, a Halloween-themed 5k and one-mile “fun run” on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, at 7:30 a.m. Organizers encourage participants to wear costumes for runs and will award medals to the overall race winner, the age-group race winner and the participant with the best costume.
All proceeds from this event will go toward the establishment of a scholarship fund for students who were raised in the foster-care system and whose education could potentially be hindered without financial support.
While the scholarship focuses on students who have grown up in foster care, PRCC administrators acknowledge that this group represents but one example of circumstances that can lead to financial hardship and impede students’ paths toward higher education.
“Our tuition at PRCC is under $2,000 a year, so money and costs are often issues for our students,” Dr. Greg Underwood, the dean of academic instruction at PRCC’s Forrest County campus and the faculty administrator over the scholarship fund of Costumes for a Cause, says. “Every little bit of scholarship helps. Whenever an opportunity like this comes up to offer scholarships to our students, it’s my job to facilitate the development of the program.”
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