By: Deanna Green

The Community Foundation for Southwest Washington’s General Scholarship Fund was established to help expand access to postsecondary education through equitable scholarship awards.

By design, this fund provides opportunities to exceptional applicants who narrowly missed the requirements for another scholarship award. After culling this pool of aspiring students, our selection committee looks beyond the standard merits and metrics presented on paper. Personal barriers, extracurricular responsibilities and community involvement are a few of the factors they consider. As a result, the selection process leads to more equitable scholarship awards and shares opportunities more broadly. 

Last year, the committee selected five students. While the awards are average in size, the relief they bring is monumental. More importantly, they help students continue pursuing success, purpose and prosperity. This fact shines through in the stories and letters of appreciationeach bit of inspiration drawn from our outstanding pool of 2020 recipients.

Forging a path for my family

This young woman’s passion for learning came through on paper, and her GPA became even more exceptional once we read her story. Both of her parents are immigrants, and her father has worked nearly as long as he can remember. While their paths left them with less to offer in terms of academic experience, their shared work ethic and sacrifice helped put their daughter through private school and encouraged her to succeed. Today, she is enrolled as a biology major at a private universityblazing a trail as the first person in her family to attend college. Her dream is to become a dentist and open her own practice to ensure everyone has access to oral health. 

Text excerpt from Thank You note: Thank you for this honor. This award will support my dedication and passion for making a difference. From an early age, I've been drawn to providing people with the best care possible and sharing my understanding of how the body works. By awarding me with this scholarship you have not only lightened my financial burden; you have placed me one step closer to my academic and professional goals. I hope that I can use the knowledge I gain to give back to my community.

Writing my own story

Family pain and trauma created many hurdles, yet none of them have come to define this aspiring physical therapist. Growing up, he watched his father struggle with alcoholism and substance abuse, and he endured the resulting violence. Still, he found his way into the small percentage of children who prevail despite the odds. He is the first in his family to attend and graduate from college, making his enrollment in a university medical school all that more incredible. While staying laser focused on pre-requisites the last couple of years, he also worked in a lab where he contributed to research that oncologists worldwide now refer to when deciding the best course of treatment for their patients. Needless to say, he is more than ready for the challenge ahead. 

Text excerpt from Thank You note: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said the ultimate measure of a man is where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. While pursuing my undergraduate degree, I struggled to afford the most basic necessities. So, I can honestly tell you that this scholarship means so much. To have a dedicated group of people believe in you is powerful and humbling. I feel incredibly honored to have even been considered for this opportunity. Thank you for helping make my dream a reality and for reducing my financial burden.

Strengthening my care for community

Moving from the Caribbean to southwest Washington would be tough for anyone, let alone a teenager. Landing in a new environment created many struggles, all of which reinforced this young woman’s concern for others. In high school she was a leader in creating a safe and welcoming campus, helping form a multicultural club and serving as a member of the school district’s equity committee. This involvement spilled over into the community where she volunteered regularly at a local hospital and as a teen-to-teen peer support representative. Her volunteerism and civic involvement were major factors in her selection for this scholarship, which is now helping her pursue studies in psychology and criminology at a prestigious university. 

Text excerpt from Thank You note: I want to thank you. I was very excited to learn about being selected to receive this scholarship, and am even more appreciative to have your support behind my educational journey. By awarding me this scholarship, you are allowing me to focus on the most important aspect of school—learning. Thank you again for your investment in students like myself and in our education. I hope one day I will have the means to help a student achieve their goals like you have helped me.

Pairing equitable scholarship awards with a wholistic approach to student needs

Our hope is to make even more of these success stories a reality by pairing the financial support of scholarships with a wholistic understanding of what students need to succeed. In addition to the stories shared above, our recent scholarship recipients helped us compile a list of resources and offered up academic tips to help their fellow students succeed during the ongoing pandemic.

You can contribute too. If you have a passion for education, help us expand equitable scholarship awards with a donation to the CF General Scholarship Fund. Your support will help provide average scholarship of $2,500 to talented local students like these. More importantly, it will open doors to the knowledge and skills that our future leaders, employees and neighbors need in order to design a brighter tomorrow.

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About The Author

Deanna Green

Deanna was born and raised in Vancouver, Washington and graduated from both Clark College and WSU Vancouver. Her personal and professional experiences have made her passionate about providing equitable opportunities for students. Outside of work, she enjoys spending free time with her family and friends, attending community events and taking spontaneous drives through the Columbia River Gorge.

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