Student scholarship success stories

Jesus Guardiola

Jesus Guardiola was nine hours shy of a college degree when he found himself in a bad place: broke. With no money to pay for tuition, he feared that his only choice was to drop out. Then suddenly a small scholarship came through for him. “I passed my courses that semester, and I was able to walk across the stage,” he says. “I don’t know if I’d even be a teacher today if I hadn’t.”

A first-generation college student, Jesus came from a hard-working family who had little money to spare. As a student at MacArthur High School, he had hoped to play baseball after graduation. That didn’t work out, but a Houston Community College scholarship allowed him to start college right out of high school. “The scholarships were really what kept me in school when I had exhausted all my own funds,” he says. “Thankfully they always came at the right moment.”

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After completing his core courses at HCC, Jesus transferred to a university and earned a bachelor of arts in biology. Today he’s a high school biology teacher with a master of arts in education. He recently bought his first house, and, a die-hard Astros fan, he still calls Houston home.

Christin-Marie Hill, Kansas City, Mo.

“I was delighted to receive my scholarships. I think they reflect KU’s commitment to and understanding of the value of the arts.”

Ten years ago, Christin-Marie Hill went to Paris to work toward a doctoral degree in French literature. But her rich singing voice redefined her life.

“I started hanging out in jazz clubs every night after class,” Hill said. “I would get up and sing a couple of numbers with whatever band was playing.”

In the middle of her second semester, Hill quit her degree program to join a jazz band. But about a year later, her voice changed. Worried her singing career was over, she went home to Evanston, Ill., believing she needed voice lessons. But nothing was wrong: Hill’s voice had matured into a dramatic mezzo-soprano, a special form of mezzo-soprano ideal for opera because it can be heard over an orchestra.

Hill earned a master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Illinois. Her operatic career has included two seasons at Tanglewood, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, in Lenox, Mass.

During a two-year apprenticeship with the Lyric Opera in Kansas City, Mo., she worked with accompanist Mark Ferrell, who heads KU’s voice and opera program. When she learned that Joyce Castle, an internationally known mezzo-soprano, taught at KU, Hill decided to pursue a doctorate here in vocal performance.

Hill has received assistance from several KU Endowment scholarships, including the Post-baccalaureate Scholarship and the First-year Graduate Scholarship, both supported through the Greater KU Fund.

Elda Perales

“Through my scholarships and loan support, I’ve been able to continue my dream of an education. Today someone does for me — tomorrow I will do for someone else.”

Elda Perales’s interest in women’s health care started early.

“My high school science classes intrigued me,” she said, “and I loved the pursuit of understanding and explanation. The other half of my education came from art classes. The human body fascinated me, and I loved the way its beauty was depicted through drawing and painting. It all came together on a trip with my human physiology class to see cadavers. I was fascinated. I knew I wanted to do medicine.”

Perales chose obstetrics and gynecology as her specialty in her M.D. program at the School of Medicine-Wichita. In summer 2007, she will begin a four-year residency there. She hopes to practice in the Midwest to stay close to home, and her fluency in both English and Spanish will be an extra asset.

Perales’s scholarships have included the Glen L. Kready Scholarship and the Gladys Wiedemann Scholarship, both for medical students at the Wichita campus, and the Dr. Earl and Kathleen Merkel Medical Scholarship, for medical students from Kansas high schools. She also has received student loans, including KU Endowment loans.

EMMA HOUAREAU MOTHEE (Bachelor of Dance)

Seychelles Government Scholarship Recipient

Dancing began as a hobby for me. I just enjoyed the feeling of dancing and had fun doing it. It was not until I had the opportunity to participate in a one year professional training programme in Toronto, Canada that I began to consider dancing as more than just a hobby. Once I found out about potential career prospects for a trained dancer, I decided I wanted to experience every aspect of dancing including the learning process.

 I am the first ever recipient of a dance performance scholarship from the government of Seychelles. My scholarship covers tuition fees, airfares and a monthly stipend for other expenses like health cover and accommodation.

If not for the scholarship, I would not be able to pursue a formal education in dance as dance degrees are not offered in the Seychelles. In fact, I had to put in a lot of effort into getting my scholarship as dancing is considered a vocational course in the Seychelles and the government does not usually award scholarships in this field.

The Seychelles is a small country where the development of dance is still in its infancy and the scope for learning new perspectives is very limited. However, there is a promising environment for dance in the Seychelles. The people of Seychelles love to dance whether on the street or at the beach.

While most dancing groups focus on traditional and folk dancing, alternative dance forms have come into the limelight in recent times especially through youth culture. The dancing population and audience in the Seychelles are also continually expecting greater quality and diversity in the dance arena.

I am thoroughly enjoying my course at the VCA School of Dance. I love the staff, the teachers, my fellow students and the whole artistic environment.

Tina Pruna – Herbert Ford Journalism and Public Relations Scholarship

Tina Pruna is a senior international communication major with an emphasis in Spanish, and she is one of three recipients of the Herbert Ford Journalism and Public Relations Scholarship. The communication department at PUC nominated Tina for the scholarship, which recognizes student commitment to the profession. The fund was established by PUC alumni to honor professor emeritus Herbert P. Ford.

“The fact that it’s anonymous, that they don’t know who receives the award, I think it shows a lot of faith on their part. Faith in the college and the kind of students the college produces,” Tina says of her donors.

Tina appreciates not only the scholarship for the financial assistance but also for the recognition of her hard work. “All scholarships are helpful but getting a scholarship from your department is special,” says Tina. “After getting all the papers back, that take me forever to write, and they have all those red marks, it helps me see my own improvement. The scholarship just makes me want to work even harder.”

Jennifer Beazley

As a single mom, Jennifer Beazley wasn't sure how she would realize her dream of going to college. Even with a full-time job, there wasn't much money left over for tuition or books.

But when her son started kindergarten, Jennifer decided she simply had to find a way to go back to school. "It was easy to get discouraged, but I had to conquer my fears," she says. "I knew that getting an education for myself was the only way I could make sure my son had an opportunity to go to college himself someday."

Today Jennifer is taking a full course load at HCC's Stafford campus while working two part-time jobs. Financial aid covers a portion of her college expenses. And a George Foundation scholarship through the HCCS Foundation helps pay for remaining expenses and her textbooks, which can cost nearly as much as tuition and fees (Jennifer's used anatomy textbook alone cost $130).  

"I have found that when you step out in faith, people will help you along your path," she says. "I was highly honored to receive a scholarship that allowed me to work part-time while attending school full-time."

Despite her busy schedule, Jennifer has managed to maintain a 4.0 grade point average. She has nearly completed her core classes, after which she will enter a bachelor's degree in nursing program.

"I'm excited," she says. "I definitely feel like nursing is where I belong, and I plan on going as far as I can."

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