Ventura College Foundation Distributes Over $640,000 In Scholarships
The Ventura College Foundation awarded 400 scholarships to 228 students totaling $642,758 for the 2020/21 academic year.
Students were notified this month of their scholarship awards. Scholarship amounts range from an average of nearly $2,400 for continuing students to an average of nearly $4,000 for students who are transferring to four-year universities in the fall. Over half of the winners received multiple scholarships.
"Despite the challenges during the school year because of the pandemic and virtual learning, many Ventura College students were able to excel in their academic studies," says Rob van Nieuwburg, Ventura College Foundation board chair. "Scholarship recipients are a wonderful example of the drive and commitment that our students show every day. Education is the gift that can pull families out of poverty, establish new futures, and launch dreams. We have been fortunate to be able to continue our mission during COVID to foster and enhance the education of Ventura College students. We are grateful for the generosity of our donors and community members who are giving the gift of education by making these scholarships possible."
Scholarships were awarded in all academic fields including STEM, art, health and liberal arts. Recipients came from nearly every city in Ventura County including Ventura (75), Oxnard (65), Santa Paula (27), Camarillo (13), Fillmore (8) and Port Hueneme (6).
A recipient of two scholarship awards this year, Bryan Rodriguez and his older sisters are the first in his family to attend college. His parents immigrated to America to provide a better life for their family.
"It is an amazing feeling to accomplish something my parents were never afforded the opportunity to do," says Rodriguez, 18. "I look forward to graduating and making my parents proud. This scholarship opportunity will help me engage in experiences that are often unpaid. I need the funds to continue to learn through experience and afford the school supplies, textbooks, transportation and other costs associated with going to college."
Rodriguez is majoring in political science. The career path intrigued him after interning for Assembly member Jacqui Irwin. "As the pandemic fades," says Rodriguez, "I look forward to seeking out more opportunities to share my knowledge and help my community, potentially joining a Citizens Advisory Committee and volunteer my time to comment and advise city leaders on community issues."
Scholarship recipient Jimena Pérez Arroyo, 18, came to the U.S. from Mexico at nine with her mom seeking a better future. "I was taught the value of education and hard work," says Pérez Arroyo who attends Ventura College full time and works part-time.
Pérez Arroyo knew she wanted to be a pilot since she was 12. She excelled in math and science throughout her schooling and is now studying engineering at Ventura College. Her goal is to obtain a pilot's license and a B.A. in mechanical or aerospace engineering. "I am thankful that VC offers a comfortable environment where I know I can learn and grow," she says. "The scholarships will help reduce the stress over monetary issues."
Volunteering has always been a big part of Pérez Arroyo's life. She is a clerk at the Law Office of Vanessa Frank. She volunteers with Swap Meet Justice where she helps the immigrant community find reliable information and helps with immigration applications. "Community volunteering brings humanity and empathy. It allows you to learn from others, grow and form your own opinions," says Pérez Arroyo.
For the second year, the in-person scholarship awards ceremony was canceled. "We hope we can hold an awards ceremony next year," says Van Nieuwburg. The gathering is an opportunity for donors and scholarship recipients to meet, which always makes the awards even more meaningful."
Even though in-person award celebrations aren’t allowed due to COVID restrictions, the Ventura College Foundation is still virtually celebrating the 2021 scholarship awardees, the donors who made the awards possible, and the sponsors of the Scholarship Awarding Week of Celebration (May 10th to May 14th). Throughout the week, the foundation launched several congratulatory videos with messages to awardees from Ventura College leadership, Ventura College Foundation leadership, and the virtual celebration sponsors along with messages of gratitude from scholarship awardees. Videos and the 2021 scholarship awards program can be viewed at https://venturacollegefoundation.org/awardevents2021.
The Ventura College Foundation is grateful for the continuing support of scholarship event sponsors. They include Edison International, Miracle Mile Advisors, Citizens Business Bank, Searle Creative, and Bank of the Sierra.