LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - As graduation season approaches, some high school seniors met with local college administrators and Mayor Nic Hunter.
About a dozen students shared their thoughts and asked questions as many of them are close to beginning their college career.
“What’s driving you? What’s on your minds? What do you like about this community? What don’t you like about this community?" Hunter asked.
Hunter was curious about what would keep students in the area for the next step of their lives.
“Even if you do decide to leave Lake Charles even after that that’s still okay, but think about coming home one day. Again, that’s what I want this conversation to be about. What are we doing as community to prepare this city for you all?” Hunter said.
Washington Marion High School senior, Chadd Smith, said he plans on attending Louisiana State University. While he said his dual enrollment at McNeese has been eye-opening, he wants more out of his college experience.
“It’s a bit bigger campus, and, since I live in Lake Charles, it’s a chance for me to get away from home and spread my wings and experience things for myself," Smith said.
Of course, for many students, money plays a big factor when deciding where to go to school. Students like Ariel Harrington, a senior at Barbe High School, said her original plan wasn’t to attend McNeese — but the university’s generosity changed her mind.
“I wanted to go out of state to experience new things, I had lived my whole life in Lake Charles and I was ready to get out. But then it kind of dawned on me that a smarter decision would be to stay here and go to school where I could go for free and not have to worry about taking on debt," Harrington said. "McNeese is very generous with their scholarships and really appreciate that. It’s going to help me out in the future for when I go to med school.”
Both students said while they may not stay in Lake Charles forever — it will always be home.