The Coconino Community College Foundation distributed a record-breaking $200,000 in scholarships to over 100 students for the 2018-19 school year.
As application season approaches, all students are encouraged to apply to the ever-increasing number of scholarships offered to Coconino Community College students exclusively through the foundation; this year's success has become the unspoken minimum goal for next year.
“There’s quite a bit of money to offer students and they’re not all dependent on you having an excellent GPA,” said CCC Public Relations Coordinator Larry Hendricks.
The foundation currently offers approximately 40 unique scholarships, many of which can be awarded to multiple students. Applications are open Dec. 15 through March 15 and the scholarships are awarded each May.
Ideally, the foundation hopes to distribute scholarships among all its students, not those of one demographic. Scott Talboom, executive director of the Foundation, works with donors to establish these unique scholarships for CCC students.
“I try to get people to give us broad criteria,” he said. “We don’t want scholarships to go unawarded because the criteria is too specific.”
Many of the foundation’s current scholarships have preferred applicants with the characteristics of students who actually attend the college, such as residents of Williams or Page, single parents and individuals with disabilities.
Faith Lee and Tiffany Burkart, two students hoping to become certified nurses, were both recipients of CCC Foundation scholarships that covered all their costs, including tuition, fees and textbooks.
Lee started her applications while she was still in high school and determining whether or not she would even be able to attend college.
“As a senior last year, I was very worrisome about how I would afford college…I didn’t have a scholarship fund,” she said.
She applied for a variety of scholarships, both internal and external, and was awarded several of each, including the Coconino County High School Senior Waiver worth $2,000.
“I was so surprised by the scholarships,” she said. “If I wasn’t able to get the help from CCC, I don’t know if I could take as many classes as I am now or be in college at all.”
Lee received enough scholarship funding to cover not only the entire 2018-19 school year, but also part of the coming year; she plans to apply again in the hopes of covering the difference and helping achieve her goals of becoming a nurse.
While Lee began her CCC journey immediately after completing high school, Burkart decided to seek a degree after years of working as a dental technician in Flagstaff. She received certification for her technical training, but had never attended a college or university until age 34, when she enrolled at CCC and became the first in her family to seek higher education.
Burkart was inspired to go to college by her four children -- Connor, Kayde, Isaac and Daniel -- who she and her husband, Dustin, fostered at birth and later adopted.
“I did not want my children thinking that college wasn’t important," she said. "They inspired me. I said, ‘I’m going to change the course of my life and go beyond what I thought I could.’”
Her children not only influenced her decision to attend college, but also her chosen field of study. Years ago, she and her husband received the medical training necessary to foster especially fragile children, like their boys, who were connected to varying forms of medical equipment and needed constant supervision. More than once, they even had to perform CPR on the infants.
Burkart said this experience has made her fearless in the face of crisis and eager to become a forensic nurse, which would allow her to work with law enforcement to advocate for women and children who have been abused.
“I had lots of foster children who needed a forensic nurse to advocate for what happened to them,” she said.
Her unique experience in the medical industry and passion for the well being of local children earned her a variety of scholarships, including the $8,300 CCC2NAU Raymond Educational Foundation Scholarship, which would follow her to Northern Arizona University if she decides to pursue additional educational opportunities there, such as a bachelor’s degree in nursing or a minor in forensics.
“I know it’s a piece of paper, but it’s more than that,” she said. “I have loved school. I am going to be sad when I’m done.”
Although both Lee and Burkart described the scholarship application process as easy, they also noted they spent considerable time on it, especially their essays, but admit it was time well spent.
“It was super easy,” Burkart said. “Yes, it took a couple hours of time, but that is nothing compared to what they give back to you if you are chosen.”
Lee added, “There can be scholarships for anything. Why not just go out there and see what scholarship you can get?”
Although the funding that scholarships can provide is often essential to students such as Lee and Burkart, Talboom said the value of being a scholarship recipient goes far beyond finances.
“We always think about the money and how important the money is, [but] I’ve had so many students say, ‘the money was great, but what was really important to me was that someone believed in me.’”