Tonight I was lucky enough to attend Montgomery County Community College (Montco)’s annual “Salute to Excellence” reception. The event recognizes the academic dedication shown by scholarship recipients, who often must sacrifice and balance studies with work and family obligations in order to realize their dreams. At the event, students share their stories and get to thank donors directly.
The reception is also an opportunity to commend donors for their generosity. Many alumni — many of whom received scholarship aid as students here — establish scholarships as a way of “paying it forward,” while corporate and community organizations do so as a way to invest in the future.
Sitting our table were three students who were scholarship recipients, and they all noted how critical such financial aid was in enabling them to attend Montco. One of the students was a young woman with a three-year old at home, working at the college, and pursuing a degree in radiography. She indicated that the scholarships, along with all the other support she has received while at Montco, is what keeps her going.
The other two students at our table were young men who were finishing up their associates’ degrees this semester, and then pursuing engineering degrees at four year colleges next year.
In all, there were over 200 scholarship recipients at the reception tonight; each with their own story as to how and why they came to enroll at Montco, and each thankful for the opportunity that the many donors present had provided to them through these scholarships.
The event was just further confirmation of why I am such a big fan of community colleges.
Montco’s foundation recently put out a booklet that offered some powerful facts about the power of investing in education:
- private dollars that enable an education – including gifts from donors establishing scholarships – more than quadruple our graduates’ lifetime earnings potential
- the scholarships created through the Foundation’s activities can open the doors to 500 more students each year; without such support, these students must put their dreams on hold, ending up as one of the missing faces in the collage above
- 90% of Montco’s students hold a job, and 60% have a family to support; these scholarships play a key role in helping these individuals attend school.
Here’s a great video that offers a glimpse at the lives of a few of the students who benefited from the generosity of donors to pursue their dream of achieving a college degree, knowing such a degree would open doors to a brighter future.
So congratulations to all the scholarship recipients; you are an inspiration to all of us, and I wish you continued success.
And thank you to all the donors for their generosity. You are making a difference in the lives of all of these students, and are there many rewards greater than that?