“I never in a million years thought that I’d be able to go to college, let alone benefit from scholarships to help me pay the way.” Virginia Western Community College early childhood education student Kaitlyn Kirkland has big goals: a doctorate in education administration and a career dedicated to making education more affordable for Americans with limited incomes.
“I grew up in a home that was very poor, we struggled day-to-day to pay electric bills, and my parents would go without eating to put food on the table for me and my little sister,” said Kirkland, who qualified for a Davenport fellowship this year through the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE).
“This support has been a blessing,” said Kirkland, “and, thanks to my fellowship, I no longer have to drive more than an hour to my mom’s house to print assignments.”
Kaitlyn and more than 6,000 other students are able to attend a Virginia community college this year, thanks in part to scholarships funded by individuals, businesses and organizations and administered by our state and local community college educational foundations.
The total value of foundation-related scholarships in VCCS colleges this academic year tops $10 million. (And note that foundation scholarships are separate from financial aid provided by federal and state government sources.)
“Scholarships are not only a meaningful source of financial support to our students, but also provide encouragement for their success,” said Jennifer Gentry, executive director of the VFCCE and VCCS’s vice chancellor for institutional advancement. “We are grateful to all of our donors for their investment in our students’ future.”
Why do people donate money to help students they don’t know?
“I believe in our mission,” said Karen Petersen, who retired from the VCCS after a long career in senior administration. “I believe in providing access to all students that can benefit from our programs, and I believe in financially supporting those students through the VFCCE that couldn’t otherwise have access to our programs.”
Longtime TCC faculty member LaVonne Parker Ellis, who also served on the TCC local board and VCCS state board, established a scholarship in 2015 and included VFCCE in her estate planning. Said her son, Hollis Ellis: “My mother lived, loved, and breathed community college education. Her spirit lives on in the students who receive her scholarship. I’m proud of her service and her farsighted support for our community college students.”
“It is truly gratifying to help make a difference in peoples’ lives,” said Bruce Davis, special assistant to the president for institutional advancement at Germanna Community College. “Having been a local business owner in the Germanna service region, I saw how most of my sixty-five employees either went to Germanna, or had a spouse or kids who attended. I was impressed by that. Now that I work for the Germanna Educational Foundation, it is a great pleasure to grow our fund raising and spending as the community learns more about the importance a local community college, and how it touches so many people from all walks of life.”
Scholarships are an investment in the future. For more information, contact your local or state community college educational foundation.
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