June 8, 2015

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Holly Lawrence, Educational Talent Search Program Director

VSU Continues to Help Area Teens Realize Potential for Academic Success

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University’s Educational Talent Search (ETS) Program recently celebrated another year of providing comprehensive academic and career-related intervention services to first-generation, low-income middle and high school students in Lowndes and Brooks counties.  

“The ETS staff is very proud of our students,” said Holly Lawrence, program director at VSU. “We see our students excel quite often and feel humbled to a part of such an awesome program that provides educational opportunities and resources to students in rural Georgia.”

During its annual end-of-year ceremony, the ETS Program at VSU recognized 22 underclassmen for outstanding participation and 39 graduating seniors — Kimberly Arnold, Shanae Brinson, Calvin Foster, Amber Head, Alana Hill, Shaqauelia Hollis, Darius Jackson, Jateria Jenkins, Tamiya Lawrence, Timothy McClain, Chelsea McClary, DeMarcus Pickett, Marquez Rozier, Sharquez Rozier, Dominique Solo, Keizian Taylor, Danielle Wade, Jasmine White, and Maranda Williams from Valdosta High School; Kahlia Alexander, Jameel Brown, Adalis Calhoun, Sakinah Hill, Shiquan Hunter, Rashaun Inman, DeVontae Leary, Eric Smith, Aleshaia Wright, and Raylyn Youmans from Valdosta Early College Academy; and Zyesha Bivins, Zaquez Blankumsee, Brandon Brown, Jessica Daniels, Tynesha Flanders, Adrienne Johnson, Tavist Mobley, Veronica Robinson, Kenyahta Wade, and Bri’Ashia Wright from Brooks County High School.

Carla C. Jordan, assistant director of VSU’s Office of Career Opportunities, served as the keynote speaker for the event, encouraging the graduates to never give their “treasure away” and to stay in pursuit of their goals and dreams.

Funded by a TRIO Grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the ETS Program at VSU serves students from Valdosta City and Brooks County schools by providing academic, career, and financial counseling. Services provided include career exploration, aptitude assessment, exposure to college campuses, assistance in completing college admissions and financial aid applications, assistance in preparing for college entrance exams, mentoring programs, and workshops for the families of participants, Lawrence shared.

The goal of the ETS Program at VSU is to increase high school graduation rates, as well as college enrollment and graduation rates,  among first-generation and/or low-income students attending Valdosta High School, Valdosta Early College Academy, Valdosta Middle School, J.L. Newbern Middle School, Brooks County High School, or Brooks County Middle School.  

Lawrence noted that 38 of the graduating seniors in the ETS Program at VSU during the 2014-2015 academic year have gained acceptance into and plan to attend a technical college or university in the fall.  

VSU’s ETS Program is one of 15 in Georgia and one of 466 nationwide.

“Educational Talent Search works closely with parents and school partners to support an environment and mindset of academic success and personal growth within our students,” said Lawrence. “It is crucial for students to know and feel they have a support system.”

Contact Holly Lawrence at (229) 333-5463 or hmlawrence@valdosta.edu to learn more.

On the Web:


Valdosta State University’s 2013-2019 Strategic Plan represents a renewal of energy and commitment to the foundational principles for comprehensive institutions.

Implementation of the plan’s five goals, along with their accompanying objectives and strategies, supports VSU’s institutional mission and the University System of Georgia’s mission for comprehensive universities. 

The story above demonstrates VSU's commitment to meeting the following goals: 

Goal 1: Recruit, retain, and graduate a quality, diverse student population and prepare students for roles as leaders in a global society.

Goal 4: Foster an environment of creativity and scholarship.

Visit http://www.valdosta.edu/administration/planning/strategic-plan.php to learn more.