By Staff Reports
(Victorville)– Thanks to approximately 38 local scholarship sponsors and endowment funds, 88 Victor Valley College students will be able to focus more on their studies during the 2014 Fall Semester and worry less about financial hardships.
The annual Victor Valley College Foundation Scholarship Recognition Ceremony took place this week inside the Performing Arts Center. More than 60 students crossed the stage to receive their awards as well as thank their generous donors. This year marked a record showing by students and their families in attendance at the event. Overall, 115 scholarships were awarded totaling more than $97,000. “Seeing the students beam with pride knowing that complete strangers believe in them and chose them to receive their scholarship really punctuates what we do here at the Foundation,” said Executive Director Ginger Ontiveros. “This is truly an inspiring time of year for the entire Foundation team.”
Among the recipients was Stephanie Abrahamson. Abrahamson is a non-traditional student pursuing a degree in environmental horticulture. She talks of hardships which have derailed her from her educational goals in the past and financial challenges that make it difficult to complete her studies. She says earning both the Mojave Desert Rothschild Environmental and Myron Winslow Scholarships relieved a tremendous amount of her financial burden. “I am on a fixed income which barely covers the basic necessities so being able to afford the books and tuition is difficult,” explains Abrahamson. “Knowing that I was chosen for a scholarship afforded me the luxury of being able to attain my education, build up my work skills and give me hope that I can soon re-enter the work force.”
Every student who attends the ceremony is asked to stand on stage to personally thank their sponsors. For some, public speaking is intimidating. Abrahamson says she too is anxious having to address the guests sitting in the audience. “It’s very humbling to see the sponsors sitting on stage. I do get nervous standing in front of a crowd but I feel incredibly blessed and proud that these people had faith in me. It’s nice to be recognized, in fact it’s marvelous,” she said.
This year, several new scholarship donors contributed to the success of students. They include, Cardenas Markets Inc., Wuzz Fuzz and Rotary Club of Victor Valley Sunrise. President of the Rotary Club, Stephen Stewart says education is one of the club’s top priorities. “Giving back to the community is important to us. We chose to give to Victor Valley College Foundation because we know the funds will be going to a student who is in fact attending school,” said Stewart. “We hope the student who receives this gift will stay in this community and also give back in the future because somebody believed in them.”
In addition to new and existing scholarships, ten Victor Valley College students benefitted from the statewide endowment created by a historic gift from Mr. Bernard Osher who several years ago gave $25 million to help California Community College students pursue their dreams. Mr. Osher also pledged to give another $25 million to match new endowment funds established before June of 2011 at any community college in the State.
This year’s Master of Ceremonies was Merlin Aalborg, Chief Operating Officer of Heritage Victor Valley Medical Group (HVVMG) and a Foundation Board Member. Heritage is one of the many Champions of Education annual package holders who sponsored the event. Annual package holders are donors who contribute anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 to the Foundation to support students, campus programs and events. They include: Desert Valley Hospital/Desert Valley Medical Group, The Daily Press, El Dorado Broadcasters, Southern California Logistics Airport, Victor Valley Global Medical Center, Mojave Water Agency, Southwest Gas, Ultimate Sports & Orthopedics, Apple Valley Communications, Desert Community Bank, Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority, Lee & Associates, Jerry Klein/State Farm Insurance and Valley Hi Auto Group.
The ceremony concluded with a reception where recipients and sponsors connected with each other and enjoyed refreshments.
The Victor Valley College Foundation facilitates nearly a half a million dollars in scholarships received for students from both local and national organizations and manages a dozen endowments that fund scholarship awards from the earnings of principal investments.
Local organizations who would like to participate in the annual scholarship program at Victor Valley College can find out more by visiting the Foundation website at www.vvcfoundation.com or calling Jesika Pomponio at (760) 245-4271 x 2522.