LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A number of hardworking students from the Natural State were rewarded for their efforts as part of the Jobs for Arkansas Graduates, or JAG program awards ceremony.

The program, organized through the Arkansas Department of Education’s Division of Career and Technical Education, targets students facing challenges – giving them the resources they need from succeeding in high school to entering the workforce.

Students in grades 7 through 12 can get career development training and advice on applying for colleges, and even have the ability to apply for national scholarships.

Seven Arkansas students walked away Monday with a 2023 Kenneth M. Smith scholarship, something only 35 students across the nation are awarded; a feat one recipient said speaks to the importance of the program.

“Our students definitely need access to opportunities and support,” Lauryn Howard, a recent graduate of Little Rock Southwest High School said, “JAG absolutely provides that support every step of the way.”

Howard says she’s gotten a lot out of the program over the course of her high school career and is set to attend Washington University in St. Louis in the fall majoring in Biomedical Science and Medicine.