We say regularly that a scholarship is more than just financial support. It’s encouragement. It’s a lesson—sometimes for the first time—that a student can reach their dreams. They can balance school and work and life, they can finish their degrees, and they can build the life they’ve pictured for themselves.
We say it all the time, but no one says it better than our students.
Mary Jones moved to Spokane a year ago with her young daughter. Being able to take that kind of leap of faith, starting over somewhere new, should tell you everything you need to know about Mary.
Her next leap of faith was to go to college.
“It’s scary before you start,” Mary said.
She was nervous about being an older student starting her college education. But she knew she wanted to get her degree in marketing and communications.
“I love meeting people who think differently from me,” Mary said. After growing up in a small town, where everyone had similar perspectives and opinions, she fell in love with talking to people about their experiences. “It expands how I think.”
She looked into the colleges and universities in the area, and she found that Spokane Community College was the most affordable option and it had the program she wanted. Although she had a lot to juggle in a new city and as a single mom, she took the leap and registered for classes.
“It’s really hard balancing work and schoolwork. You have to pay for school and to have a roof over your head, and you also have to give enough of your time to be successful in school. So how do you choose? That’s the tricky part.”
Things got even trickier when she and her daughter were both at home this spring in the wake of the pandemic. Mary had to get creative with her workspace, practice good time-management, and invest in technology.
“Before starting school, I really didn’t know if I’d be successful,” Mary said. She thought she wasn’t smart enough to be a good student, or that maybe she wasn’t the kind of person who has a degree and a career.
But all of that hard work started showing her what she could accomplish.
“Seeing progress allowed me to see my work was paying off,” Mary said. Like when she made the Dean’s list. That helped her stay motivated. One big sign of her accomplishments came when she heard she’d been offered a scholarship.
At first she didn’t believe it. In fact, when she got the call, she thought it was a scam! She told the donors who awarded her a scholarship that she’d never thought she was school-worthy, let alone scholarship-worthy. But of course she was.
“Getting a scholarship made me feel valued more than I thought I was. I felt so grateful to be chosen, that someone thought I was worth investing in. It made me want to level-up.”
Now she’s about to accomplish one of the steps towards her dream. She’ll graduate from SCC this winter and transfer to Gonzaga University for her bachelor’s. She’ll be the first of her siblings to get a degree and the first person in her daughter’s life to go to college. In short, she’ll be exactly the kind of person who has a degree and career, and who believed in herself enough to make her dreams a reality.
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