Glenn Armentor was born into poverty. His life was headed down a crime-laden path that would have landed him in prison, but three mentors – a police office, a teacher, and an attorney — changed his life. Because of his experience as an at-risk youth, Armentor established the Pay It Forward Scholarship program, which now gives multiple $10,000 scholarships each year to students in critical need who want to attend college.
”My mentors taught me that every child, no matter how seemingly troubled and problematic, is worth the effort to save and worth the time to turn into a better person,” says Armentor, who is a prominent personal injury attorney in Lafayette, Louisiana, and was a finalist for the American Association for Justice 2014 Trial Lawyers Care Award.
He says the Pay It Forward Scholarship “is far and away my best work.”
The program was structured after thorough research with scholarship experts from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Foundation. The $10,000 that a student receives enables him or her to matriculate and begin the process of applying for Pell grants, housing scholarships, merit-based scholarships, book scholarships, and transportation scholarships. Depending on the student’s ACT scores and grade point average, a student who receives the Pay It Forward Scholarship can receive other scholarships and grants ranging in value from $35,000 to $80,000 over the course of four years, essentially helping them pay for all of their college costs.
Armentor intends to expand the scholarship so that it can be offered statewide and even nationally.
“I have made contact with lawyers throughout the state who grew up in poverty and are now doing exceptionally well, and have shared with them the research we did on scholarships, as well as our artwork, templates, and forms so that they can initiate their own scholarship programs,” says Armentor.
He anticipates that six other scholarship programs will arise in six other college towns over the next several years.
Armentor is proud of the work the lawyers at his firm do for injured individuals and families, and he believes, “What sets us apart is the fact that every one of our lawyers has a very significant, highly respected community service project that does a world of good for the constituency it seeks to serve and to benefit…. The lawyers in our firm are happy, our firm feels like part of the community and part of the family of our Acadiana region and we have established a deep friendship and rapport with every segment of our community.”
The scholarship program has come a long way. In its first year, only a few students applied. No one could believe that a trial lawyer wanted to help kids in the most dire of circumstances, and that the scholarship was real. In 2010, the first year of the Pay It Forward Scholarship, one student received the scholarship. In 2011, there were two scholarship recipients; in 2012 four recipients; in 2013 five recipients; and in 2014, two recipients. Videos about the students are featured on the Armentor firm’s website.
As part of the program, Armentor asks the students to–at some point in their lives–take the time to pay it forward to help someone else. In addition, in 2014 he started bringing all the recipients together for what will be an annual luncheon which will enable the scholarship recipients to stay in touch and mentor and support each other.