Eleise Ashley and Samantha Allred, Senior Reporter and Reporter.
Nicole Ferris has been the manager for donor and alumni relations for about three years now and she thoroughly enjoys letting a student know when they’ve received a scholarship. The first step to receiving a scholarship is to apply for one. That is where the Pierce College Foundation comes in.
The Pierce College Foundation provides students with opportunities to succeed by awarding scholarships to those in financial need. The foundation is made up of volunteers who work to help students overcome roadblocks that jeopardize their student status. These roadblocks can vary from financial needs to time limitations. By providing scholarships, the foundation aims to increase a student’s chance to graduate on time.
One type of scholarship available is the General Foundation scholarship aimed at students who have at least a 2.5 GPA, six credit hours and an essay that is accepted by the committee.
Some of the funding for scholarships come from the foundation’s events. Last year, the foundation raised $300,000 through its first gala. This year, the foundation held its Distinguished Alumni event. Although it wasn’t at the same level as the gala, it remains one of the more prominent events the foundation hosts.
The foundation also held the Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon on October 18th. The event exists for foundation volunteers to thank donors and provide them a chance to meet the students they have directly impacted. Student speakers take a moment to address the luncheon guests and tell their stories, explaining how the scholarship had a positive impact in their life.
Ferris recalled a recent student that has received the Kylie Lee Schreiner Memorial Scholarship. The student’s disability – a traumatic brain injury from his time served in Afghanistan– made it difficult him to do activities like driving a vehicle. The Schreiner Scholarship was designed and granted to help with the costs of special equipment needed for people with a disability.
“If they [the student] can say, you know, ‘this scholarship I got helped me not have to choose between putting my kids in daycare or taking another class,’” Ferris said. “That is a powerful thing to share to a donor.”
When asked who should apply for the foundation’s scholarships, Ferris encouraged any student to apply.
To make the application process easier on students, the foundation recently acquired a new website called pierce.awardspring.com. When a student logs onto the website, it lists the various scholarships offered at Pierce. The site also automatically links the student’s profile to the application, filling out basic information for the student. The new site simplifies the more complicated previous process, by now allowing a student to fill out a single form. These forms automatically continue throughout the whole school year so students don’t need to reapply every quarter.
The form also asks questions relating to financial or personal challenges and limits each answer to be about 400 words.
The website can easily be accessed from smartphones to tablets, as long as there is internet connection. Ferris says that the now streamlined and easy to access platform allows a larger portion of students to apply and get scholarships.
Once the student has turned in their scholarship application, it is reviewed by the foundation’s scholarship committee, which accesses all of the applications and review them on a quarterly basis. The committee looks at a student’s ability to articulate their dedication and educational goals. According to Ferris, when a student can convey what they want to accomplish and how the scholarship can help them, this will make the student look better in the eyes of the committee reviewing them.
Ferris advised students to reach out to the foundation if they have any questions.
The foundation wants to report to donors that their money is being used and not ignored. If there is an increase in scholarship applicants, it means donors would have more incentive to continue their support and provide more in the future.
“I just want people to keep applying,” Ferris said. “ I’d love to see our numbers double and triple and go back to our donors and say give us more because we have the students who are deserving of it.”
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost