Riverland scholarships make a difference

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2008

These are historic times and our economic future is uncertain. During this time of uncertainty, one thing is evident — colleges like Riverland Community College are a key to the state’s economic recovery. Now more than ever, we must provide access to and opportunity for education. Now more than ever, students need your help. The Riverland Community College Foundation is the vehicle through which you can provide support.

The Riverland Community College Foundation raises, manages and distributes resources to support, enhance and promote the educational opportunities Riverland offers the people of our region. The foundation is dedicated to raising funds for scholarships and programs.

Last year, more than 200 students received scholarships through the Riverland Foundation. While the number of student scholarships has been increasing, the average scholarship award has steadily decreased. Unfortunately, some students are still turned away. During the 2007-2008 academic year, we were not able to award scholarships to 70 eligible students. Our goal is to provide scholarships to meet the financial needs of all qualified students.

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In my role with the foundation, I have the privilege of meeting students from all walks of life. If you could listen to our students, you would hear, “I never thought it would happen to me. I never thought I could receive a scholarship,” or “I finally feel as though my life is turning around.”

You would hear about the single parent, with two small children, who had lost hope in herself, until a scholarship from the Riverland Foundation allowed her to return to school. She would describe the joy she felt the day she opened her mailbox and discovered a Riverland scholarship award letter. She would retell the moment it registered that she would no longer be forced into a minimum-wage job or welfare. She would tell you that this scholarship and her education meant that her children would be the first generation in her family that would not grow up in poverty.

She would tell you that no one in her family had ever gone to college before, and she was sure she could not either until a private donor’s faith in her convinced her she could succeed.

The more than 4,000 students at Riverland Community College come from different backgrounds and they hold promising dreams for themselves, their families, and their communities. If you could hear what I hear every day, you would hear “thank you” a thousand times.

It is with these voices in mind that I encourage you to make a difference in the lives of students, aspiring students and in our communities through a contribution. Every gift to the Riverland Community College Foundation helps in these uncertain economic times.

Happy holidays to you and your loved ones. For more information about giving to the Riverland Community College Foundation, please contact me, Julie Anderson, at (507) 433-0508.

Julie Anderson is the executive director of the Riverland Community College Foundation.