Scholarships Change Lives
COCC Foundation Scholarship Recipients Give Thanks
Congratulations to our Student Scholarship Recipients, Carlos Vazquez and Nikki Kraus, who were honored at the 2017 Meal of the Year.
Accounting & Entrepreneurship
When Damien was growing up, his mother was in jail most of the time, and he never knew his father. The experience gave him a goal: when he was a father, he would not only be present in his children’s lives, but would be a positive role model for them.
After dropping out of high school, Damien worked as a supervisor in the home-building industry. Since the downturn, he has been out of work for some time, has run out of unemployment and is struggling to keep his home. He decided it was time to pursue an education at COCC.
When he received a lifeline in the form of a COCC Foundation scholarship, he says he "never felt so lucky. One of my biggest worries about going to college was accumulating debt."
Damien is taking most of his courses near home in Madras and Redmond. He is majoring in accounting and entrepreneurship and is on track to earn his associate’s degree. He and his cousin, a COCC student majoring in biology, are planning to start an organic farming business, which they hope will have a positive impact on the local economy.
"I have been growing vegetables most of my life as a hobby," says Damien. "I became interested in organic methods when my children were young, as I wanted them to have the healthiest food possible." In the meantime, Damien is starting a community garden on his acre and a half: "I am hoping to be able to feed our family and those in the community in a healthy and inexpensive way.
"Going to college has been one of my greatest achievements," says Damien. "I am showing my children that it is possible to live a great life. I cannot thank the scholarship donors enough for being kind enough to choose me for a scholarship," says Damien. "I will keep my grades up and will not let them down!"
Jennifer says that receiving the scholarship was an honor and an incentive. Not only has this financial boost helped her family offset the costs of her schooling, she says it has made her more focused as a student.
"It’s not just my money that I am spending to attain my goal, it’s money that others have donated to help another person achieve a goal. Getting good grades is important to me regardless, but it gives me a little extra push knowing my education matters to people that don’t even know me."
Jennifer, who has worked in the health care field for 20 years, presently works full-time as a clinical research coordinator. She decided a couple years ago that it was finally time to pursue her goal of becoming a nurse.
"My goal in high school was to be a doctor," she remembers. "Instead I got married young, had two daughters and life took some twists and turns. As much as I would still love to be a doctor (mostly to prove to myself I can do it), I really enjoy the nursing side more."
She says she has had nothing but positive experiences so far at COCC: "From the students and staff to my instructors, everyone is very helpful, patient and downright wonderful to work with. I am so pleased with COCC and the way my college career is shaping up."
"There are so many nursing fields that interest me. Oncology has a firm grasp on my heart yet pulmonology and cardiology are very appealing. I think as long as I’m taking care of patients, I could really enjoy any field of nursing. My final goal is to get a master’s degree in nursing and be a nurse practitioner."
AAOT Transfer Degree
"Thank you so much for your donation to my education at Central Oregon Community College. Without your help, going to college would not be possible to do," says Jetta. "I am currently on the Women’s World Team USA for Inline Hockey and was honored to play goaltender in the 2012 World Championships."
"With the generous support of people like you, you have helped me have a back-up plan to athletics. I am finishing my AAOT transfer degree and my goal is to become a chemist with a background in exercise science."
"I wish to contribute back in any way possible. Thank you again and I look forward to meeting you in person one day."
Recently Guy George has discovered his true calling: "I am a teacher; I just do not have my degree yet." Realizing that, he has naturally gravitated toward training positions at work and tutoring roles in school. He recently changed his major to education with the goal of teaching sociology, psychology and history at the secondary level. Living in Redmond, Guy has taken classes on both the Bend and Redmond campuses.
Caught in the housing crisis, Guy and his wife are now upside down in their home loan. "This is not a unique story I realize," says Guy, "and we are still fighting to make the mortgage payments."
"I have managed to find weekend work performing food demonstrations that helps keep food on the table, but even with our strict budgeting, we have depleted our savings, and are now dipping into the education fund set aside for our two young children just to pay the monthly bills," he explains.
A COCC Foundation scholarship is now helping to bridge the gap.
"We have had some unexpected emergency expenses this year that would have been impossible to cover without this help," says Guy. "The scholarship is allowing me to better provide for my family, while at the same time maintain my focus on getting the most out of my education."
"Thank you to the COCC Foundation for your generous support," says Guy. "I hope to find my future classroom in Central Oregon and to someday give the next generation of teachers the same opportunity as you have given me. My wife and I have thanked our lucky stars for this scholarship and plan to be contributors in the future."
"I am honored to receive this scholarship and will undoubtedly put it to good use. I will now be able to pursue my educational goals of being a full-time student. I intend to move forward striving for excellence both in and out of the classroom," explains Lisa.
"As a strong student, I will continue to explore, learn and challenge myself academically. I will continue my work with the Sustainability Club and the COCC Garden Club as these groups have proven to be incredibly rewarding."
Lisa's experiences and the opportunities encountered during her time at COCC have made it clear that she is on the right path and looks forward to earning a bachelor’s degree. "Upon completion of my studies at COCC, I will transfer to OSU-Cascades where I intend to earn a double degree in Natural Resources and Sustainability. I envision myself working in the nonprofit sector when I hope to, in some way big or small, meaningfully contribute to the protection of our precious natural resources."
"With your generous support, I am now able to continue on my educational path and work toward these goals. I feel that I cannot express my gratitude sufficiently. Thank you so much for this amazing honor, your support has made a significant impact on my life and I only wish I had the words to convey just how fortunate I feel. Thank you."
Scott La Roche
AAOT Computer Information Systems
"I am very honored and proud to have received a Foundation scholarship," says Scott La Roche. "Thank you!"
"The Foundation scholarship has really helped me and my family," says Scott. "First, it helps cover the cost of my tuition—along with other financial aid. Secondly, we pay off the gas credit card with whatever is left after tuition. That has greatly helped us because both my wife and I live in Prineville and take classes in Bend."
Scott now works full time as a field/network technician for a small telecommunications company in Redmond. "COCC gave me the knowledge, skills and the opportunity to get this job!"
Of his experience at COCC, Scott says, "I have met so many wonderful people, students and staff alike. The faculty at COCC really cares about student success and it has kept me motivated."
He is planning on earning his bachelor’s degree in computer information systems at either Oregon State University-Cascades or Oregon Institute of Technology.
"I am completing my final year of nursing school and the financial burden that school has brought to our family has been difficult," says Lindsi. "However, it is because of all of you that I am able to continue my education and work closer to providing a better and stable future for me and my son. I could not have done this without your support."
"As a donor, you have provided me an opportunity to financially and emotionally make a positive change that will fulfill my dreams and give me success in life, and for that, I am grateful."
"It is hard to express the emotions I feel when others are so willing to help, like all of you. I will make you proud with my future career choices and will be happy in the future to give to other students as you have given to me during this hardship. Thank you."
Early Childhood Education
Six years ago, Susan Wiechert was stacking blocks of wood for eight hours a day at a lumber mill. After a divorce and without an opportunity to advance at the mill, she decided that she needed additional education "to help succeed in life."
She decided to attend COCC because of the convenient locations and availability of online classes, allowing her to stay in the Prineville area to raise her three children. Wanting to help her children has kept her motivated.
"In order to be able to complete my classes to earn my degree, it is better for me not to work and go to school at the same time," says Susan. "I was working during fall term and did not do very well with either my job or my schooling."
"Without the help of the scholarship, my financial life would be a mess," says Susan. "Having this financial assistance has helped me fulfill my course load obligations without the worry of how to make money stretch."
"I took a good look at my heart and remembered all the hours of Sunday School that I had taught as well as working in a Child Center in Germany, and realized that teaching was my true love to begin with," remembers Susan. Someday, she says, she would like to open her own preschool.
She says that her experience at COCC has been an excellent one: "I enjoy the classes, the teachers are easy to work with, the programs are great, and almost everything I need as a student is right on campus."
Wildland Fire Science
Jamie Garcia decided that his next step in life was to enroll at COCC: "Education is important to me," he explains. "Receiving the scholarship means that I will be able to attend college and not have to worry as much about money," says Jamie. "My goal is to get the best grades possible, and these funds give me more time to study."
His affinity for the outdoors and physical challenges led him to start working on an associate’s degree in wildland fire and fuel management. "I have a three-year plan, and I’m dedicated to accomplishing my goals," says Jamie. "Everyone at COCC is very willing to help with any questions. I especially like that tutors are available."
During the summer, he works at GFP Enterprises, an emergency response company focused on wildland fire suppression and catastrophe management.
"The scholarship means a lot to me, so dedicating some of my time volunteering for the Foundation is the least I could do."
Leslie Elliot attended many high schools before earning her GED at Central Oregon Community College a dozen years ago. "As the economy got worse and my job opportunities became less attractive and business magazines started predicting some jobs becoming obsolete, I decided it was time to make a change to provide a stable life for my family," says Leslie. "I have three kids, and I want to be able to put them through college someday."
Living in Little River Ranch just south of La Pine presented a significant obstacle: a 60-mile round-trip commute to the Bend Campus. She needs to return home each night to care for her father, who has Parkinson’s disease.
With help from a scholarship administered through the COCC Foundation, Leslie enrolled at COCC last fall.
"I am thankful for this very generous donation," says Leslie. "Thanks to the scholarship, the only thing I need to worry about is doing my studies. I am very grateful to everyone who made this possible."
Since starting at COCC, Leslie says that her eyes have been opened to a world of possibilities. "I did not think I had what it takes to be so successful in school, but I took the Study Strategies class and learned how to study and manage my test anxiety and ended up with a 4.0 grade-point average for my first two terms."
Leslie is on track to earn her associate’s degree in business administration. She would like to eventually also earn a master’s degree in business administration.
"Thank you so much for making this scholarship happen!" she says. "It sure is making a big difference."
Emergency Medical Services
"Thank you so much for this scholarship. The financial and moral support goes a long way to motivating me and keeping me on track when times are difficult. Working, classes, homework, maintaining a family and preparing for a new member of the family is challenging- but it’s made easier knowing that my efforts have paid off."
Last spring, Noah made the Dean’s List for the first time. "It was an amazing feeling to have achieved this when people who knew me most of my life didn’t think I could do it, but people such as yourself, who didn’t know me yet, saw potential in me and invested in it."
"I have worked hard, sacrificed much and will continue to do so with dedication and determination on my path to becoming a paramedic. Thank you."
"This scholarship made it possible for me to take the CNA 2 class and get a job at St. Charles in Bend," says Christy. "It essentially helped me begin my nursing career and allowed me to have a positive impact on my patients and the community."New Link
After completing the course last fall, Christy found a full-time job as a CNA at St. Charles in January. "The course gave me knowledge and confidence to perform my job duties well," says Christy. "Specifically, the
clinical experience was invaluable in solidifying skills learned in the lab setting."
Christy was admitted into COCC’s nursing program this fall. She continues to work at St. Charles, but now on a part-time relief basis.
"I have had a very positive experience at COCC so far," she says. "Since gaining admission into the COCC nursing program, I am closer than ever to achieving my goal of becoming an emergency nurse. Thank you."
Past COCC Faculty and past COCC Foundation Board Member
"School is not a luxury item for scholarship recipients. It is a means of becoming self-sufficient and providing quality of life for themselves and their families.' Jack continues, 'For teachers that are in direct personal contact with the students, receiving a pledge card in the mail is not merely a tax write off; it is a choice of whether or not to change a life."
La Pine Ace Hardware
Giving money away helps business. What is wrong with that equation, you might ask? Nothing according to John Pinckney, who owns La Pine Ace Hardware and Building Supply and is a Foundation donor. "My customers see that I am involved. It both inspires them to follow suit and lets them know I am committed to the betterment of the community."
COCC Foundation Board Member
"I believe the Foundation is a worthwhile charitable investment. It is one of the most valuable contributions that one could make. By supporting the Foundation, you are supporting students to further their education - students that would not have otherwise been able to. Educated people are vital to a thriving community. My personal goal (as a Foundation Board Member for COCC) is to encourage the younger and newer groups in Bend to become familiar with what an incredible asset the College is to our community, and to get them involved in supporting this resource however they can."
Past COCC Foundation Board Member
John Overbay took night classes so he could continue work in the lumber mill during the day. That was in 1952, the year Don Pence, who had been running things on a volunteer basis, was made the first President of the first community college in the state. John Overbay went on to Lewis and Clark College but didn't forget that year at COCC. He co-chaired the college's capital campaign, which raised $6.5 million. "I am proud of our home-grown college. We all should be."
Past COCC Foundation Board Member
"COCC is an important part of Central Oregon and my life! It would be difficult to imagine this wonderful community without it. I have been a part of COCC as a student, an employee, and Foundation Board Member for many years. The college has had such an impact on my life that I truly believe giving of our time and resources impacts students and their dreams to further their education and lives."