Why Give: Student Stories

Contributing to the general scholarship fund makes a lasting impact on students’ lives. Those individuals who may not have the opportunity to attend school and continue their education are able to do so because of our generous donors and supporters. In 2016-17, CGCC Foundation awarded over $135,000 in scholarships to 72 students.

Interested in making a contribution to the foundation?

Learn how to give.

photograph of Nikole Van Laar

Student Story

Nikole Van Laar

I thank each donor for helping me make my dreams become a reality. It is my hope that foundation donors are also proud of the difference they are making in many of students’ lives.

I’m a first year nursing student here at CGCC. I moved to Hood River six years ago, where I graduated high school in 2009. Prior to moving here, there were some life events that made graduating high school seem impossible, furthermore making college less than an afterthought.

I grew up in a family of abuse. I eventually lost my drive and essentially gave up on every aspect of my life. When I moved to Hood River, I entered my senior year of high school with the credits of a sophomore. I was told I would not graduate on time and needed to look into getting my GED or attending an alternative school. Instead of giving up, I used the word "can't" as my motivation. I made up close to 17 credits in one year and was able to graduate on time in 2009. It was at this time that I learned the only person that could tell me that I couldn't do something was myself.

Immediately after graduating from high school, I began taking classes at the Hood River-Indian Creek Campus. In 2011, I graduated from CGCC’s medical assisting program; however, there was an underlying desire for more. I continued my educational pursuit, and following my second attempt I was accepted into the nursing program in 2013. I can remember almost every detail from the day I received my acceptance letter. My dreams were finally coming true!

I’m a girly girl. I love clothes, shoes - you name it. I love to look and feel good, which is kind of funny considering I wear my scrubs most of my waking hours now. Even though scrubs aren’t my favorite attire, I'm proud to wear them. I’m proud to represent CGCC. I’m proud to recall where I started and see how far I’ve come. I’m proud to be actively seeking out and living my dreams, but while I may be proud, I realize that none of this would have been possible without the generous donations made by all of the generous donors of CGCC Foundation.

I thank each donor for helping me make my dreams become a reality. It is my hope that foundation donors are also proud of the difference they are making in many of students’ lives. It is those donors who help reinforce CGCC’s mission of “building dreams and transforming lives.” So as a scholarship recipient, I want to personally thank the foundation donors because this journey has, and will continue to, transform my life. Thank you!

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photograph of Meleny Calzadilla

Student Story

Meleny Calzadilla

"I am extremely grateful to be a recipient of a Renewable Energy Technology Scholarship and Kyle Francis Brogna Memorial Scholarship."

My name is Meleny. I moved to the Northwest from North Carolina to change my career path. This has required surrendering familiar surroundings and support from people now far removed from my daily life. Investing in a future that coincided with personal and professional values demanded great sacrifice and increased financial hardship. I am extremely grateful to be a recipient of a Renewable Energy Technology Scholarship and Kyle Francis Brogna Memorial Scholarship, for the 2013-2014 school year. These scholarships will allow further devotion and excellence in, not only my program studies, but it will allow time away from work to enjoy volunteer services within our community.

It requires immense focus to juggle a demanding program with work and extra-curricular activities in school and in the community. In order to maintain this focus, a clear mind and stress free environment are needed. Limited time and finances tend to create stress and unproductive distractions, but because of this generous scholarship, I am able to continue a steadfast path towards earning an Associate’s degree at CGCC in Renewable Energy Technology. I can’t express the relief that I have experienced heading into my final year at CGCC knowing that a substantial cost of seeking self-improvement and professional growth has been alleviated. It is an amazing feeling and stirs great emotions when I realize that after the years of struggle I’ve endured, I can now reap the rewards of accomplishment, perseverance and a prosperous professional future.

The donors of the RET Scholarship have made a difference in my life that will spread through my future actions of giving back and staying motivated to help those around me in their life challenges by sharing my story and providing encouragement. It has been a joy I intend to continue to find and give. With great appreciation, I thank you for helping me change my life and witnessing the ability of making my dreams a reality.

Sincerely,
Meleny

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photograph of Margaret Bellamy

Student Story

Margaret Bellamy

"The Early Childhood Program has been such a good investment for my life. I love working with children. Learning from professors who have that same drive and love for children has made my learning experience here amazing.”

My name is Margaret. I’m very thankful for being chosen for the Betty Gray Early Childhood scholarship and the Lennie Mueller ECE scholarship. It is such an honor to be awarded these scholarships.
The Early Childhood Program has been such a good investment for my life. I love working with children. Learning from professors who have that same drive and love for children has made my learning experience here amazing. I am now in my second year of the Early Childhood Program and working towards my associates in Early Childhood and Family Studies.

CGCC has helped me reach many of the career goals that I have wanted to accomplish. After I am done with school, I plan to take these skills and use them to help better educate young children. I am also the president for Student Government here at CGCC. Having this job has helped me with my leadership skills and has brought joy to my social life. I love working side by side with students, staff, and faculty. I have gained friendships here that I know I will cherish forever.

When I am not at school, or at one of my two jobs, I love to play music and hang out with friends. Music is a huge passion in my life. I love to sing, play guitar, and write music. I also love to just listen to music; whether it is live or not. Hanging out with my friends and going on crazy adventures make life so fun and interesting. I am so blessed with my friends. I have so many great memories with them and am still making more amazing memories.

These scholarships mean a lot to me. I cannot claim financial aid, so I have been working really hard to pay for school. These scholarships have lifted a huge weight off my shoulders, and my stress level has gone down immensely. It is a huge blessing to have the rest of my school paid for. Thank you again so much! It is such an honor to be awarded these scholarships.

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photograph of Fiona Duyck

Student Story

Fiona Duyck

"From the time I was six years old, I wanted to study and have a career in health and medicine."

My name is Fiona. From the time I was six years old, I wanted to study and have a career in health and medicine. As a young teenager, I decided that I wanted to pursue nursing, and started to prepare for college with this career in mind. Raised and homeschooled in The Dalles, Oregon, I graduated high school at 16 with a G.E.D. and started attending CGCC. Now, at 17, I am in my second year at CGCC, a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and well on my way to completing the pre-requisites required for admittance to the nursing program, and my Associate of Arts degree.

After I finish the nursing program pre-requisites and Associates degree, my goal is to transfer to Rogue Community College and attend the two-year nursing program there. After I graduate from RCC, I would like to earn a BSN from OHSU, and then go on to pursue a master’s degree in either Midwifery or as a Family Nurse Practitioner.

Receiving the Marni Johnson Memorial Scholarship is special to me because it allows me to pursue my goals. College is expensive, and without scholarships I wouldn’t be able to follow my dreams. I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity and the resources to pursue the education I need to successfully reach my goals. I hope to use the skills I learn as a nurse to give back to my community, and be a service to my country and my world. Thank you so much for making the scholarship possible, and by proxy, making my education possible.

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photograph of Nicholas Acorn

Student Story

Nicholas Acorn

"I am deeply thankful of and impressed by the generosity that Columbia Gorge Community College Foundation donors have shown."

Born and raised in Seattle, I think that the Pacific Northwest is a region uniquely situated for a green energy economy. My goal for the future is to work in the renewable energy industry to help make the energy supply of the Northwest, and the United States as a whole, more secure and sustainable. To this end, I have spent the last four years attaining a Bachelor of Science in physics with a focus on renewable energy at The Evergreen State College in Washington state. During these years of study, I've learned a tremendous amount of theory, but like so many students today, I've graduated into crushing job prospects and a mountain of student loan debt.

Columbia Gorge Community College Foundation has saved me from this rock and a hard place by awarding me a full scholarship for the renewable energy technology program, which is teaching me the hands-on skills I'll need to succeed in the renewable energy industry. This scholarship has freed me from sinking deeper into debt and is opening doors to promising careers where I can improve the world as well as my own life.

I am deeply thankful of and impressed by the generosity that Columbia Gorge Community College Foundation donors have shown in their willingness to make a difference in the lives of people like myself. It is something I will always remember.

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