June 27, 2013 – Wednesday began the Georgia Lottery’s celebration of its 20th anniversary. Gov. Nathan Deal and former Gov. Zell Miller joined in a ceremony in Athens, Ga., along with guest speakers who had benefited from the Lottery’s funding.
Lottery president and CEO Debbie D. Alford called the anniversary “a milestone that all Georgians can celebrate,” and pointed to the success of the lottery-funded HOPE Scholarship and Pre-K programs as key points in the anniversary celebration.
One HOPE scholarship recipient, Deep Shah, was on hand for the ceremony, and discussed with local television news station WSBTV what the lottery-funded scholarship meant to him.
“”When you’re a student here knowing you’re benefiting from what really is truly an effort of the entire state, to educate you, it makes you want to give back,” Shah said.
Shah, 27, attended the University of Georgia on the HOPE scholarship, and then went on to medical school at Harvard University in Boston. Since graduating, he has moved back to his hometown of Atlanta to serve the community he grew up in.
Speaking at the celebration, Shah described the Lottery’s Pre-K and HOPE programs as a “new social contract [of good will] between any young person growing up in this state and the community in which we are being raised.”
Since its first year in 1992, the Georgia Lottery has returned more than $14 billion to education programs in the state.
According to a Georgia Lottery press release, more than 1.6 million students have received HOPE scholarships, and more than 1.2 million children have taken advantage of the voluntary Pre-K program.
Former Gov. Zell Miller initially championed raising education funds through the institution of the Lottery 20 years ago.
“I had the HOPE
Scholarship as my dream all those years and to bring it to this kind of fruition means a lot,” Miller said.
In a speech thanking all those who helped realize his dream, Miller said that HOPE meant Help Outstanding Pupils Educationally, and Lottery president Alford promised to continue meeting that goal.
“I make this promise to you: that this organization’s commitment to HOPE and Pre-K, to raising the revenues to support these programs, is as strong today as it’s ever been,” Alford said.