VC Foundation announces distribution of over $683,000 in scholarships
The Ventura College Foundation is awarding scholarships to 248 students totaling $683,748, the largest annual scholarship distribution in the foundation’s history.
Students were notified this month of their scholarship awards ranging from $1,000 for continuing students to $4,000 for students who are transferring to four-year universities in the fall. Many students received multiple scholarships.
“This is the largest amount of scholarship funds we’ve ever distributed in one year to Ventura College students,” says Rob van Nieuwburg, Ventura College Foundation board chair. “We are grateful to our scholarship donors. The foundation usually hosts several scholarship awards ceremonies where we honor both the recipients and donors. The ceremonies are an opportunity for both to meet. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, these events were cancelled. While disappointed the ceremonies couldn’t take place, our donors were thrilled to know that their scholarships were awarded as planned despite these unprecedented times.”
Scholarships were awarded in all academic fields including STEM, art, health and liberal arts. Recipients came from nearly every city in Ventura County, with the highest number from Ventura (92), Oxnard (74), Santa Paula (27) and Camarillo (14).
Angela Calderon, an Oxnard resident and the recipient of three STEM scholarships, has her sights set on becoming a mechanical engineer, working in the space sector of the aerospace industry. Last summer, Calderon, 21, was selected to participate in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) program, an accelerated five-week online course. She was then invited to take part in an onsite experience at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama where she competed in a rover design competition.
“NCAS inspired me to continue working hard towards an engineering degree,” says Calderon. “The program showed me that any goal is attainable.I’ve always been concerned about the cost of my education so being awarded these scholarships will help me better focus on my studies.” She will be graduating from Ventura College in May and will attend Cal State Northridge in the fall.
The educational path for many students takes a number of twists and turns. Such is the case of Phoenix and Allied Health scholarship recipient Season Chavez. A mother of five, Chavez, 37, is in her second semester of the Ventura College Nursing program and will graduate in 2021.
Chavez, who lives in Newbury Park, has had to juggle school, work, and family. She returned to school full-time after an 11-year break. Her lifelong dream is to become a pediatric nurse.
“I hope to serve children and their families in the community. My biggest joy would be patients and their families letting me know that I’ve made a difference in their care,” says Chavez. “When my own six-year-old son was hospitalized in November with Type 1 diabetes, nurses made a difference and gave me strength to carry on. Being a source of empathy, and having a calm presence is my hope as a future nurse. The scholarship will help me to continue my education. I can’t wait to pick up my stethoscope and apply the education I am receiving at Ventura College.”
The Ventura College Nursing Program is demanding and faculty members diligently prepare their graduates to enter the challenging and rewarding field of nursing. All Ventura College nursing students in the fall 2019 class received a 100 percent pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) exam. The national average pass rate for first-time test-takers is 83.5 percent.
“Scholarships are more important than ever,” says van Nieuwburg. “Most Ventura College students work while attending school. Many are now unemployed because of the COVID-19 shutdown. The scholarship funds enable students to pay for school expenses so they can continue their studies.”
Students are currently attending classes remotely since the college campus is closed. “While the transition has had its challenges, the college stepped in immediately to provide many avenues of support for both faculty and students,” says Kim Hoffmans, Ventura College president. “Student services are also available remotely including tutoring, counseling, and financial aid. For students without laptops or internet connections, Ventura College used available funding to purchase 500 laptops enabling students to continue with their education. Ventura College employees are working long hours to make sure students receive the education and support necessary to achieve their academic goals and career readiness, to be prepared when our economy recovers. Our student body is resilient.”
Qualified full-time students in the coming academic year will be able to have their tuition and education fees paid by the state’s Promise program. Emergency grants and financial aid are also available.
The Ventura College Foundation is grateful for the continuing support of scholarship event sponsors even as events were cancelled. They include Edison International, Miracle Mile Advisors, HZ Main Events Design & Consulting, Searle Creative, DJ’s California Catering, Clean Power Alliance, Trinity Wheeler Photography, Bank of the Sierra and individual sponsors Ken and Doris Collin, Ellyn and Jim Dembowski, Dr. Ruth Hemming, Lynne Kada, Anne Paul King, Mary Saputo, Eleanor Tillquist, van Nieuwburg, and Harald and Birgit Wulff.
For more about scholarships and other support services provided by the Ventura College Foundation, go to www.VenturaCollegeFoundation.org.