A record 145 people will attend college this fall thanks to scholarships from several St. Clair County Community Foundation funds, totaling nearly $ 440,000 in scholarships.
In 2020, a total of 140 students received approximately $ 400,000; 104 students received just over $ 300,000 in 2019, and before that, the total number of students supported each year was less than 75, said community foundation vice president Jackie Hanton.
She noted that the foundation is still accepting applications for the remaining scholarship funds, so the numbers for 2021 will increase.
âWe are very proud of the diverse group of recipients we have this year,â said Randa Jundi Samman, chair of the community foundation’s board of directors, in a statement posted on the community foundation’s website. “Students range from first generation to college, single parents, non-traditional students, and returning students on renewable scholarships.”
The person receiving the highest level of financial support is Abigail Ruthenberg, a graduate of Port Huron Northern High School, who received scholarships from the Beth Linscheid Duff and Kenneth and Verl Fleury funds for a total of $ 8,640.
âSince I was little, I have always helped my dad with projects in the garage, nurturing my creativity and my desire to solve problems,â Ruthenberg said in her scholarship application. “It led me to engineering.”
She will head to Michigan Technological University to study engineering as a first generation student.
Forty-eight other 2021 fellows are also first generation students. Fifteen recipients are non-traditional students entering college after a break in their studies after high school. Twenty-four recipients were raised in single-parent homes and 11 recipients are lone parents themselves.
Robb Miller, who graduated from Port Huron High School in 2021, was awarded two scholarships: Little Brothers, Little Sisters, and the James Wilhelm Memorial.
“Miller faced a tremendous amount of obstacles and challenges throughout school, at one point it seemed like graduation from high school wouldn’t even be possible,” the statement said. . “But Miller was dedicated and resilient, finishing strong.”
The Wilhelm Scholarship is awarded to outstanding student-athletes. Miller ran the track and played soccer and will play soccer at Oakland University. He will continue to focus on sports with a major in sports rehabilitation.
âMy career plans are to stay involved in the sport,â Miller said in the statement. “Personally, I think sport saved my life in a way, helping me in the long run.”
Kassandra Gaytan, also a 2021 graduate, is a recipient of the Charles and Berniece Uligian Fund scholarship. She will be studying nursing at Grand Valley State University.
“I would like to become a nurse practitioner and specialize in oncology to do the job that saved my grandmother at age 19 and again at 38 when she was diagnosed with cancer,” Gaytan said. in the press release. âShe (never) thought that she would see the birth of her granddaughter and now she has seen me graduate and develop in the interest of pursuing a career that has saved her. “
Some students continue their studies using the foundation’s renewable scholarships.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Collin Higgins, a recipient of the St. Clair Foundation Fund Renewal, had to delay graduation from Michigan State University.
âHaving previously taken out student loans and working part-time, receiving this scholarship helps relieve those tensions and helps me spend more time on graduation,â Higgins said in the statement.
He will complete his final year at MSU this fall to complete his media and information studies with a specialization in fiction filmmaking.
Sixty of the recipients remain at St. Clair County Community College and others travel as far as Alabama, Florida, Pittsburgh and New York.
“Projects range from becoming environmentalists, neurologists, journalists and wildlife biologists, to dreams of careers in regenerative medicine, international investment banks and forensic science,” the statement said. “These students share the hope that their education will help them prepare for an ever-changing future.”
The community foundation has been providing scholarships since 1987, Hanton said.
She said scholarships are important because they help fill gaps in financial need; take some of the pressure off of having to find other ways to pay for college, especially those that might take time and energy away from studying; give students confidence and responsibility, as well as someone who believes in them and their potential and is committed to their success, and enables donors and committees to invest in the people and programs that matter to them .
âThe stock markets are changing,â Hanton said. âPeople are realizing that students with more obstacles might be more of a ‘risk’, but that just means the impact and the reward are all the greater. It’s not just about high test scores and GPAs, student council presidents and football team captains. These are intangibles, like courage, work ethic, resilience, ingenuity, self-awareness.
âUsing essays, letters of recommendation and interviews, our scholarship committees deepen their research to find the students for whom a scholarship can really make a difference – those in financial need, yes, but also the stay-at-home mom who wants to go back to school, the first-generation college student, the single parent working three jobs to make ends meet – those students who may not have an army of supporters behind them paying their dues. path or show them the tricks of the trade, but who deserve no less a shot to follow their dreams.
Hanton said the scholarships are not just about tuition and books, but help students with everything they need to be successful in school, whether it’s a laptop to do their homework. homework, a month’s rent, transportation to class or babysitting for their children while they study.
âThe stock markets don’t really do the heavy lifting; recipients do it, âshe said. “A scholarship just recognizes that someone already has what it takes and helps it fill in the gaps.”
For more information, visit stclairfoundation.org.
Emily Pauling is a writer for The Voice. She can be contacted at [email protected]