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12:13 AM Fri, Nov. 16th

Column: Yavapai College scholarships change lives

Courtesy photo<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Perry and Sandy Massie established two new student scholarship funds earlier this year.

Courtesy photo<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Perry and Sandy Massie established two new student scholarship funds earlier this year.

Simply stated, Yavapai College (YC) exists to help students achieve their higher education goals. Accordingly, Yavapai College Foundation (YCF) exists to secure private funding for YC, beyond budgeted sources, to improve the likelihood of a successful outcome for each and every YC student.

One of the most important ways that YCF fulfills this goal is through scholarships for deserving students with financial need. During the past year, we provided scholarship support to almost 400 students; however, another 400 students who applied for private scholarship support through YCF received none.

A primary goal of YCF is to fill this "gap" by having meaningful scholarship funding available for every student who applies each year. It is a lofty goal but one that YCF Board, staff and volunteers are committed to.

The 2008 Recession and subsequent defunding of community colleges by the State of Arizona cut deep into YC's ability to provide student scholarships. Indeed, more than $1,000,000 in institutional scholarships for students had to be permanently removed from the annual YC budget. Since that time, thanks to hundreds of caring donors, YCF has steadily increased scholarship support and made meaningful progress to close the gap.

Good examples of student scholarship support abound and will tug at your heart strings. Almost 1,000 individuals, couples and families in our communities make gifts to YCF each year. Some gifts are as small as $5, while others are much larger. For example, Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Prescott, together with partners YCF, Yavapai Regional Medical Center and Margaret T. Morris Foundation, have provided free tuition scholarships for 57 Nursing and Allied Health Students over the past 4 years. Every gift is greatly appreciated!

More recently, "The Lead," with $66,000 in scholarship support from YCF, provided a unique summer educational experience for 29 disadvantaged students from rural Yavapai County. Cynthia Gardner is taking what she learned as a Lead student into her first year at YC. "I learned a lot about what to really expect in college," she told us. "I'm not afraid of the work load from the classes anymore, or worried about getting lost. I've met several people that genuinely want all of us to succeed and will help us do so. The Lead program helped me become more confident and learn to believe in myself. The program really prepared me for the fall."

Over the years, more than 130 separate named scholarship endowments have been established, such as Barbara Polk's Champions Scholarship. This Fund is for young adults who are current or former wards of the Yavapai County Juvenile Court. This fund has helped 100 at-risk young adults get a new start and a college education. YCF Board President Perry Massie and his wife Sandy made gifts last year to fund two endowed student scholarships, one of which is designed to continue support for "Littles" who are aging out of their relationships with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

These are just a few of the many heart-warming stories of generous, caring people, sharing their time and treasure to improve the quality of life for every Yavapai County citizen. Did you ever receive financial support to help you accomplish your education goals? Are you now in a financial position to "pay it back" and help YCF close its student scholarship gap? My wife, Denise, and I answered yes to these questions, and we established and funded the Irene A. Bussart Endowed Scholarship for female students pursuing a business degree. The fund honors Denise's mother, who as a single parent of two, came back to school at YC and parlayed her education into a very successful career here in Prescott.

If you would like to learn more about how you can help improve the lives and futures of deserving Yavapai County students with an educational scholarship, please contact me at steve.walker@yc.edu or visit www.yc.edu/ycf.

Steve Walker is Vice President of Advancement at Yavapai College and Executive Director of the Yavapai College Foundation.