Zoraida A.

"I have a wonderful career, self-sufficiency and independence."

"I have a wonderful career, self-sufficiency and independence." Zoraida A., a native of Mexico, has the distinction of being an alumna of the first graduating class of the high profile Bilingual Nursing Fellowship Program. With funding secured by Congressman Ed Pastor, the program was created to address the critical shortage of Registered Nurses in Arizona, particularly those who are able to communicate thoroughly and effectively with Spanish Speaking patients. Zoraida explains that the program is a collaborative effort between GateWay Community College and South Mountain College in cooperation with Banner Health. “We studied at a state-of-the-art center for health careers at GateWay which included classrooms and labs modeled after a fully functioning hospital. It was an amazing experience and we received extensive academic support!” “I was already a student at South Mountain Community College and I was interested in Nursing. I knew that it was highly competitive to get into a nursing program so when I heard about BNFP I knew that I had to give it a try. The day that I found I had been selected into the program I felt joy, relief and honor!” “All of us received a monthly stipend and it was so helpful. It really took a load off from us and our families. It was enough for me to purchase food and gas and concentrate on my studies.” Zoraida recalls that her fellow nursing students were more like an extended family. “We worked together to keep our eyes on the prize. We knew that each step that we took was bringing us that much closer to reaching our goal -becoming nurses. We worked together to stay organized. We helped each other recharge mentally and emotionally.” The rigors of nursing school were intense and sometimes left Zoraida and her fellow students feeling overextended. As Zoraida explained, they coped with those stresses together by forming study groups where they also cried, complained and persevered together. “It was a sisterhood that we shared throughout the educational experience and the bilingual component made it even more special.” While Zoraida was in the full-time program, she and her son lived with her family. “Joshua is nine years old now, but his entire life he has seen me studying and he’s always been so cooperative. Education has just been part of his daily routine and he sees higher education and studying as part of the norm. That’s a great thing to model for your children!” Zoraida is now a Registered Nurse working at Barrows Neurological Institute at Saint Joseph’s Hospital. “I love nursing. Everyday is different and I enjoy the interaction with the patients! Now living on her own with her son, Zoraida proudly explains “The BNFP gave me a wonderful career, self-sufficiency and independence.” South Mountain Community College

Veronica N.

"The CPLC scholarship program has helped me keep this great balance in my life, and I’m very appreciative."

"The CPLC scholarship program has helped me keep this great balance in my life, and I’m very appreciative." Veronica N. studies at Chandler-Gilbert Community College (CGCC), and she credits the Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC) matching scholarship program for lifting the financial weight off her shoulders and, more importantly to her, off her parents’ shoulders, as well. “My parents have always been so supportive of my educational dreams, and I didn’t want them to be stressed about college expenses for me. When they found out that I received the CPLC scholarship, they were so proud and felt very blessed for all of us,” says a grateful Veronica. An unexpected bonus to Veronica’s interest in higher education, and her willingness to put in the time and energy toward her dream of becoming a Special Needs K-3 teacher, is that her two little sisters, ages 7 and 11, have become interested in her schooling and have already started asking her questions about college and talking about when they can get to go to college, too! “I go to school full-time, and I work as an Instructional-Aide here at CGCC. Plus, CPLC has given me the opportunity to work in community service, and it has given me a complete and new insight into nonprofits; and I have enjoyed it immensely. Truly, the CPLC scholarship program has helped me keep this great balance in my life, and I’m very appreciative,” says this busy student who will be attending ASU in the fall. Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Chicanos Por La Causa Scholarship  

Savannah S.

"I never could have dreamed I would be where I am now, so when things get rough I remind myself...

"I never could have dreamed I would be where I am now, so when things get rough I remind myself of everything I have accomplished so far, and of all the great things I am going to do." I grew up in Florida and moved to Arizona eight years ago. When I was young I was homeschooled and we didn’t have much money, so college always seemed like a pipe dream. For a long time circumstances prevented me from pursuing higher education, but a year ago I decided to begin working on a college degree which was a difficult decision as I have no financial help from the outside. I have continued to work while in school, and mainly rely on scholarships to pay for my classes and books. Despite the difficulties, being a college student has been a rewarding journey so far as I’ve always loved learning and being in school has given me so many new opportunities to grow. I initially chose to attend Mesa Community College (MCC) because it was close to where I live and most importantly, affordable. However, after attending college here for a year and learning more about the Maricopa Community Colleges, I have come to appreciate just what an excellent institution it is, and I feel very fortunate indeed to attend school here. MCC, and by extension all the Maricopa Colleges, have become more than just a pit stop on the way to my master’s degree. They have come to feel more like a family. I’ve received the Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise scholarship as well as the MCC Honors Program award, the All-Mesa Academic Team award, and a State Farm Emergency Scholarship for students facing hardships. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to earn scholarships, as they are the reason I am able to stay in school. I’m pursuing an associate degree in Recreation Management. In two years I will be transferring to Prescott College (PC), for an Adventure Education degree. Due to affordability I am doing the 90/30 credit agreement with Prescott College, and will only be attending there for one year + a summer semester. PC is the college of my dreams and I can hardly wait to attend. I have three jobs. I like to say I have my day job, my night job, and my weekend job. For my day job I am a student worker at the Center for Community and Civic Engagement at Mesa Community College. I spend most of my time helping students with service learning paperwork and directing them to helpful resources, as well as staffing the events and community service projects the Engagement Center puts on. My weekend job is a Recreation Leader at the Environmental Education Center in the city of Chandler. I help run events such as concerts, camp outs, and festivals, and when school is out I work at the Nature Camp educating children ages 6-12. My night job is as a Delivery Driver for Domino’s, which is exactly what it sounds like. I would really like to drop this job so I can have more time for school but I can not afford to do so. I want to spend my life educating people about our environment and wild places, while also enabling them to have fun! There is so much out there to be learned, and I want to learn it all and pass it on to others. My dream is to someday be an interpretive ranger at one of the national parks, or a wilderness guide. Wherever I go, I know I will never stop learning and teaching. Mesa Community College, Scottsdale Community College, State Farm Insurance Emergency Fund

Pilar R.

"I work on a team that has discovered a genetic cause of a rare type of ovarian cancer."

"I work on a team that has discovered a genetic cause of a rare type of ovarian cancer." Pilar has always loved science. By studying Biotechnology at Glendale Community College, she learned in-depth research methods and applications in the bio-science field. With scholarships from the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation, Pilar had access to hands-on training from instructors in the field. “I got a job helping to prepare labs for science courses,” she said. “I got to interact so much more with my instructors. I enjoyed it so much and my instructors would come back when I was washing test tubes and say “get me this bacteria!” Pilar is now an Associate Researcher at TGen, and is putting her skills to use everyday. She and her team have discovered a genetic cause of a rare type of ovarian cancer. Glendale Community College

Patricia K.

"Without scholarships I could not continue my higher education…they are imperative to me."

"Without scholarships I could not continue my higher education…they are imperative to me." When people think of Brazil, they may think of the Amazon, Carnival, coffee, soccer and samba. Very few people outside of Brazil and Japan are aware that, as a result of Japanese government policy in the years immediately following WWI, there are now over 1,500,000 Japanese immigrants and succeeding generations living in Brazil. Glendale Community College student Patricia K. is a Japanese Brazilian. She recounts a fascinating story of her then-14 year old grandfather and his younger brother being placed on boats bound for Brazil. An agreement between overpopulated Japan and labor-hungry Brazil was misrepresented to thousands of Japanese parents as a wonderful opportunity for their children to receive an education while being raised by Brazilian families. The reality that awaited the children was hard and demeaning work on Brazilian farms. To compensate for their unrealized potential, the second generation of Japanese Brazilians worked very hard to put their younger siblings through college. Patricia notes that third generation Japanese Brazilians place equally great importance on education.Patricia is a global student having studied Drafting at a Technical College in Brazil and Tourism in England. Since she speaks Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and English, she was able to get a job as an English instructor in Japan, a country she has grown to love as much as her beloved Brazil. She enjoyed teaching children immensely and wanted to get a degree in Elementary Education. “I felt very bad when I was living in Japan that I did not complete college. I wanted to go back to school but didn’t know when or how I could.” In 2006, Patricia and her husband, Wellington, came to Arizona to visit a minister for whom she had interpreted in Japan. The couple fell in love with our desert landscape and friendly people. They decided to apply for student visas and haven’t looked back. She loves studying at Glendale Community College and says…”without scholarships I could not continue my higher education…they are imperative to me.” Patricia is an Honors student and works three jobs, one as an ESL Tutor at GCC, while her husband of three years is working toward becoming a physician. Both would like to become permanent residents of the United States. And what happened to her grandfather after being taken from his home at the age of 14? Initially bitter at Japan for what he considered a betrayal and after much prodding from his family in Brazil, he returned to his homeland. He had been totally disconnected from the family he left behind for 50 years. During his weeks in Japan, he visited with his surviving siblings and their families and saw the prosperous Japan of today. Patricia reports that he returned to Brazil happy and at peace with both his native country and his adopted one. Patricia hopes to realize her grandfather’s educational dream of long ago by earning a university degree herself. Glendale Community College