Ventura College Foundation Distributes Over $750,000 In Scholarships

The Ventura College Foundation presented scholarships to 240 students for the 2022-2023 academic year during its 33rd Annual Scholarship Awards ceremony, May 13, at the Ventura College Athletic Center. There were 446 scholarships awarded, including nine new scholarships, totaling $756,908. Last year's distribution amount was $652,758.

Scholarships ranged from an average of over $2,400 for continuing students to an average of $4,200 for students who are transferring to four-year universities in the Fall. Many students received multiple scholarships.

Christopher Hightland

Some students are using their scholarship funds to pay for certificate programs to prepare for in-demand trades. Christopher Hightland, 35, is a Navy veteran who was deployed overseas. He received two veteran-focused scholarships. With a 4.0 GPA, he just completed his Computerized Numerical Controlled (CNC) 1 Machining course at the new Gene Haas Advanced Manufacturing Lab on campus and is enrolled in its CNC 2 course.

"After serving in the military, veterans can find it hard to find their place in the civilian world," says Hightland. "Becoming a student at Ventura College gave me a sense of belonging. The opportunity to be part of the new Machining program has been a game-changer for my career path. I want to take my education and experience to an innovative company in the machining industry."

"Students are still feeling the impact of the pandemic and scholarships can make the difference between being able to stay focused on education or having to scale back," says Ellyn

Dembowski, chair of the Ventura College Foundation board of directors. "Ventura College Foundation has over 400 available scholarships. Students can apply for scholarships in specific areas of study or general scholarships. We urge students to take advantage of this valuable financial resource when the scholarship applications window opens again."

Alyna Zarate
Photo Credit: Trinity Wheeler Photography

For multiple scholarship winner Alyna Zarate, 19, her career goal is to become a lawyer or political science professor. She originally studied biology, but after she became involved in student government at Ventura College, her interests shifted.

"The scholarships showed me the potential in myself, that I can do anything in this world," says Zarate. Besides her involvement in student government, Zarate volunteers with the Coalition for Literacy, which helps adults and students struggling to read. "Growing up, my parents always told me to give back to the community. At the end of the day, I want to make a difference in someone's life."

Twenty-one-year-old Isabel Mercado is taking courses in automotive technology. "Computers are now driving the automotive industry. The automotive technology certification is the gold standard for automotive excellence," says Mercado who is currently a mechanic for Toyota of Oxnard. " My goal is to become a master technician at Toyota. The company is very innovative, especially with electric vehicles and zero emissions."

A two-scholarship recipient, Mercado is a first-generation college student. She works and goes to school full-time. "The scholarships allow me to prioritize school while still providing for my mom and family," says Mercado. "The scholarships mean a lot to me. I'll be able to graduate debt-free."

"I'm constantly amazed, but not surprised, at the dedication, determination and drive of our Ventura College Foundation scholars," says Dembowski. "Hearing their life stories and career plans at the awards ceremony gives you confidence that our country's future is in good hands."

The Ventura College Foundation is grateful for the continuing support of scholarship event sponsors. They include Edison International, HZ Main Events Design & Consulting, Miracle Mile Advisors, Citizens Business Bank, Searle Creative, Bank of the Sierra, L&T Catering, Ohana Pet Hospital, and Trinity Wheeler Photography.

Scholarship applications will be accepted for the next academic year beginning in the Fall.