College is not only an opportunity to better themselves, former President Bill Clinton told the senior class of El Dorado High School on Wednesday, but it's what allows them a level freedom not enjoyed by most people across the globe.
President Clinton spoke to the seniors and a crowd about 2,000 people in "the best-looking basketball gym in America," referring to the school district's new state-of-the-art facility, during El Dorado High School's sixth annual Academic Signing Day and celebration of the El Dorado Promise Scholarships. The scholarships are available to all qualifying El Dorado High School graduates to help meet college tuition costs at any institution of higher education in the country.
Quoting unemployment statistics for various education-level groups during the recent economic downturn, President Clinton told students they can no longer be assured of making a decent living with only a high school education.
"This scholarship is giving you the chance to do something you want to do. ... At least half the people on earth today don't have that choice to work where they want to work. ... Most people work to stay alive, to feed themselves and to feed their families," he said. "You are being given freedom by going to college to get to choose how you want to" earn a living, he said.
President Clinton also lauded Murphy Oil Company, which committed $50 million in 2007 to create the El Dorado Scholarships. "As far as I can tell, there's not a company anywhere else in the United States" that has made this kind of commitment, he said.
Also addressing the students during the event were El Dorado High School Principal Jim Tucker, El Dorado Mayor Frank Hash, El Dorado Promise Director Sylvia Thompson, Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrall and Murphy Oil Corp. Chairman of the Board Claiborne Deming.
See more photos of the event on our Facebook page.