by Alana J. Mauger
In celebration of scholarship and philanthropy, the Montgomery County Community College Foundation recognized more than 300 donors, students and their families during its annual Salute to Excellence reception on Nov. 9. During the 2010-2011 academic year, 143 students received $178,285 from 77 scholarship funds—the most in the Foundation’s history.
College President Dr. Karen A. Stout explained the necessity of making scholarship funds available to the more than 25,000 credit students who enroll at the College annually.
“Most of our students juggle work, family and school. Scholarships provide the necessary dollars for them to focus on their studies,” she said.
The number of students who require financial assistance to enroll at MCCC has increased 50 percent since 2005.
“To date, the College has awarded over $38 million in financial aid to 5,342 students for this fall—an increase of 27 percent over last year,” said Dr. Stout. “Even with these increases, our students have a total unmet financial need of $24 million.”
Two student speakers, Tia Maute-DeMatteo and Justeix Collins Croppers, set the tone for the evening by sharing their stories and expressing thanks to all of the donors in attendance.
“I am here today to express my gratitude for receiving the Michael Rosa Memorial Scholarship,” said DeMatteo, who was recently accepted into the College’s Nursing program for the spring 2011 semester. “My family endured some challenges and I never knew exactly how I would pay for my education or if I would attend college at all.”
She explained that working fewer hours is critical to her educational success in the Nursing program.
“Receiving a scholarship literally means that I can work less hours and devote more time to my studies, enabling me to keep my grades up while maintaining my responsibilities as a mother, wife, employee and student,” she said.
Education major Justeix Collins Croppers described the journey that brought him to the College at age 26, when he began taking evening classes part-time. After being laid off from his job as a belt fabricator, he enrolled full-time the following spring.
“That semester, I earned a 3.3 GPA, giving me the opportunity to apply for a scholarship. This was something that did not seem real to me at the time,” he said. “The Joseph David Prosser Memorial Scholarship for Returning Students has given me the confidence to come out of my shell and get involved.”
Croppers now serves as the president of the College’s African-American Student League, and he participates in the Minority Male Mentoring Program, where he is mentored by a member of the College’s staff and in turn mentors Norristown High School students through the Trio Upward Bound program.
“I’m going to take full advantage of this opportunity and stay focused and steadfast in my quest to become a middle school teacher with the overall dream of starting a young men’s academy in Norristown some day,” he said.
Foundation Board Chairman Geoff Brandon served as the emcee for the evening, introducing each of the scholarship recipients and their donors. Scholarship sponsors include corporate and community organizations, individuals, alumni, and current and retired faculty and staff.
Citing the alumni donors in attendance as an example, Dr. Stout challenged the scholarship recipients to someday “pay it forward,” investing in other students’ futures the way someone invested in theirs.
Several years after he was issued the same challenge, 2005 graduate Ken Mont did just that.
“I received the Brian S. Damms Memorial Scholarship when I attended here,” said Mont. “When my grandmother passed away, we established this scholarship in her memory. The scholarship is for an adult returning to college, like I was.”
Mont is nearing the completion of his master’s degree, at which time he will begin working toward a doctorate. His goal is to become an English professor at the College.
Porter Bush, district manager for the College’s food vendor CulinArt, describes his company’s commitment to providing an annual student scholarship.
“It’s important to develop good relationships and mentor students. It’s what we should do in both business and life,” he said.
Before adjourning for the evening, Dr. Stout thanked the donors for investing in our community’s future with a call to action.
“Keep investing in Montgomery County Community College and our students; consider increasing the annual gift to your scholarship fund; and spread the word to your friends who may also want to invest in us.”