GREAT EXUMA, Bahamas – A Franklin, Tennessee, couple who founded a network of substance-abuse treatment clinics has funded a special targeted scholarship to allow students from a high school in the Bahamas to attend MTSU.
Michael and Tina Cartwright, who have a second home in The Bahamas, wanted to help students from L. N. Coakley High School in Great Exuma develop expertise through higher education that, in turn, would help benefit others on the island of Exuma.
The Cartwrights, who both attended MTSU, established a $600,000 scholarship fund to cover tuition, housing and other expenses for four Coakley students to live and take classes on MTSU’s Murfreesboro campus.
The scholarship will renew after the first group of four honorees graduate from MTSU.
Michael Cartwright, chairman and co-founder of American Addiction Centers, announced the gift during events Jan. 21-22 in The Bahamas with MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, a native of the country. You can watch a video from the events at http://youtu.be/S4IBWEnRxyE.
“Tina and I understand the value of higher education,” said Michael Cartwright. “We approached President McPhee to establish a pathway that could recognize and reward future leaders who could return to Exuma as leaders and will help spur economic development on the island.”
Jerome Fitzgerald, Bahamian minister of education, science and technology, said he was “humbled” by the Cartwrights’ donation.
“I applaud your initiative and fully endorse this endeavor that will greatly benefit the students of Exuma, the island of Exuma and, by extension, our country,” the minister added.
McPhee said the Cartwrights wanted to make a targeted gift with an institution they trusted to help mold students into leaders for Exuma.
“Michael and Tina wanted to invest in MTSU, a known entity to them, to help people that they knew could benefit from mentoring, guidance and direction for this archipelago,” McPhee said.
“Our university will help prepare and educate the students selected for this honor to become leaders and influencers on the island.”
The Exumas, an archipelago of 365 cays and islands, are located 35 miles southeast of Nassau, the capital of The Bahamas. They are divided into three major areas: Great Exuma, Little Exuma and The Exuma Cays.
Great Exuma and Little Exuma are known for their laid-back surroundings. The Exuma Cays boast private homes, luxury resorts and beachside condos.
“The Cartwrights hope that the recipients of their award will return to their home communities and contribute to the economic, social and cultural growth of Great Exuma,” McPhee said.
The MTSU president noted that the scholarship recipients will be required to complete two experiential learning or community service projects in Great Exuma.
“Tina and I wanted to give something back to the people we’ve come to know, love and respect during our time in The Bahamas,” Michael Cartwright said. “MTSU offers a unique experience to transform the lives of those selected for this program.”
Behavioral health entrepreneur Michael Cartwright oversees the Brentwood, Tennessee-based company, which operates six inpatient substance-abuse treatment centers across the United States. The company began trading publicly on the New York Stock Exchange last October as AAC Holdings Inc. and was included on the 2014 Inc. 500 list of the magazine’s fastest-growing private companies.
“We are proud of the Cartwrights and appreciate the confidence they have placed in MTSU to effect change in a community that they value,” McPhee said. “Their gift is a significant financial contribution that over time will transform the lives of the recipients and the community of Exuma.”
McPhee has made targeted international enrollment a strategic priority for the university. MTSU’s international student enrollment has doubled from 396 to 789 in five years, and it had 335 students studying abroad last summer.