$100,000 donation helps West Rusk students headed to ETBU

$100,000 donation helps West Rusk students headed to ETBU

In the span of less than 24 hours, people at a Longview car dealership learned about the promise of free college tuition falling through for West Rusk High School graduates and decided to make a $100,000 donation to help cover the students' unexpected costs.

Fifteen students planning to attend East Texas Baptist University were affected. The school confirmed that the gift, combined with other financial aid, would be covering the vast majority of costs through December.

"Nobody likes to see a kid that doesn't get an opportunity. And that's what we've created today," Fenton Honda of Longview General Manager Paul Manziel said.

Manziel learned about the broken promise on Facebook and decided to fix it.

"These kids weren't going to be able to enroll in school," he said. "We saw that and decided it would be a good thing to be able to help these kids."

For West Rusk graduates Billy Williams and Ashley Tarbutton, the gift is more than just money.

"I didn't want to be on completely on student loans," Williams said.

Williams wants to be lawyer. He thought he would have to take year off to save up for school.

"It's humbling," he said. "This whole thing has been humbling. It's been a roller coaster ride this summer."

"When I found out I was so excited," Tarbutton said. "I was ready to call my mom, call my dad and tell them the worrying is over for now."

West Rusk Superintendent Tommy Alexander said he's finally coming to terms with the fact that his students may never see the free trip to college they were promised.

"For the time being, that deal is off the table. No doubt about it," Alexander said. "I would like to say it can get back on the table, but I don't have any assurance of that at all."

On its face, the check is worth $100,000 dollars. Williams said it's really a lot more, and had a message for the people at Fenton Honda.

"If y'all need a corporate lawyer in six years, you know, you got one!" he said.


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