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Following in Perot’s Footsteps

Following in Perot’s Footsteps

by Ellen Or

Eighteen-year-old Thomas Beth, who recently accepted the Presidential Scholarship from Texarkana College, has many reasons for choosing to stay in his hometown for his first year of study.

“My family has a lot of history with Texarkana College,” Thomas said. “My grandfather, grandmother, and dad all went to TC. The family factor was a big one for me.”

Another factor for choosing TC was the financial aspect. “It’ll save me a lot of money to stay here for my basics,” he said. “The Presidential Scholarship pays for my tuition and books. I don’t mean to sound cheap, but: free college is free college.”

These two reasons alone are compelling enough, but a more surprising motivator exists as well: one of Thomas’ personal heroes is an alumnus. “Ross Perot is a big supporter of the college,” Thomas said. “I’ve had a connection to him through Scouting. He and I are both Eagle Scouts. [Mr. Perot] supports Boy Scouts in this area and just the Boy Scouts of America in general,” he said. Thomas recalled the 2015 Scout-O-Rama event, where Perot spoke on the importance of Scouting. Before his speech, he talked with Thomas one-on-one, and during the presentation, Thomas and other Eagle Scouts stood behind him on stage. “I know that, since he supports [Texarkana College], it will be good for me, because he also supports something that’s helped me so much in my life—Scouting,” Thomas said.

The opportunities before him at TC exist largely in part to his alma mater, Pleasant Grove. A student from kindergarten through graduation, Thomas has nothing but good things to say about his years there. “When I graduated, I realized how helpful Pleasant Grove really was,” he said. A program that greatly benefited Thomas was the dual-credit program that PG offers in conjunction with Texarkana College. Before entering his freshman year of post-secondary study, Thomas has already earned 17 credit hours, needing only 27 more to finish his basics. 

One of his favorite dual-credit classes in high school was biology. “My teacher Ms. Teer always made it really fun and engaging,” he said. “I was able to learn a lot while getting college credits at the same time.”

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This love of biology that emerged during his years at Pleasant Grove is perhaps what inspired his future area of study; after a year at Texarkana College, Thomas plans to transfer to Texas A&M–Galveston to pursue a degree in marine biology. “A&M–Galveston is the number nine marine biology program in the country, up there with the Ivy Leagues,” he said. “Growing up, I always wanted to watch the Discovery Channel and things like that. At the dinner table, I’d tell my parents all I’d learned about the ocean. I can really see myself doing marine biology for a long time. They say that if you love what you do you never have to work,” he said.

Planning to finish his basics over the next two semesters at TC, Thomas looks forward to adjusting to the rigor of college and a college schedule, perhaps getting a job, and hanging out with his many friends who too have chosen to begin their college careers in the Ark-La-Tex. “I think I will be much more comfortable getting used to college life here in Texarkana before going off,” he said.

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