Luncheon honors Northeast Community College scholarship recipients and sponsors

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by sarahp  4/21/2017 8:31:00 AM -- 

NORFOLK – Northeast Community College celebrated the generosity of those who have given of their resources to ensure that students are allowed to pursue higher education degrees. Students and their sponsors sat together and heard inspirational stories during the College’s Annual Scholarship Luncheon held in the Lifelong Learning Center here recently.

“Every year, approximately 900 students graduate from Northeast,” said Dr. Michael Chipps, president. “Each one leaves here with the hopes and dreams for a bright future, but many, through no fault of their own, face hurdles – setting aside their educational journey due to family and job commitments that often prevent these students from having the financial resources necessary to attain their degree or degrees to be successful in life.”

Chipps continued, “At Northeast, our goal is to help all students achieve academic post-secondary educational success. Fortunately, many of our students get to experience the generosity of others,
first-hand, through the gift of scholarships. People like our donors make those dreams come true.”

Over 75-percent of degree seeking students at Northeast Community College received financial aid during the past academic year; 61-percent were first generation college attendees. Sixty-three percent of Northeast students are eligible for Pell Grants, which means that the federal government believes the family is able to contribute less than $5,815 per year to the student’s cost of education. This past year, scholarships in the amount of $241,000 were presented to Northeast Community College students with an average award of $685.

Chipps also emphasized that once students graduate from Northeast, they become successful.

“According our just released 2016 Graduate Report, 89-percent of our graduates live, work and pay taxes in Nebraska after they graduate. Of the graduates who are employed in Nebraska, 62-percent are employed within our 20-county service area. In addition, 99-percent of our graduates were either employed or continuing their education during the past year.”

Northeast student Jasmine Ullarich, Norfolk, the recipient of the Don Pfeil Scholarship and the Norfolk Noon Rotary Club Scholarship, spoke during the event. A physical therapist assistant (PTA) major, she graduated from Norfolk Senior High School in 2014. Ullarich said she became interested in the program after seeing how physical therapy helped your younger sister who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

“I attended each (physical therapy) session with my sister and I was just fascinated by everything they were doing. I had no idea that tossing a ball around and balancing on a beam was helping her, but I got to see it firsthand. That was what pushed me to enter (Northeast’s) PTA program.”

Ullarich expressed her appreciation for the generosity of others for allowing her to complete her degrees.

“There were numerous times I didn’t think I would have enough money to pay for books and tuition on top of the various other things I have to pay for. Thankfully, every semester I have been here, I have been able to receive scholarships from some generous people. With the funding that I was awarded, I was able to complete not one degree…but two degrees in the span of my time here.”

Northeast business administration student Artur Rodriguez, Sao Paulo, Brazil, the recipient of the Northeast Community College Faculty Association Student Excellence Scholarship, also spoke at the event. He came to Northeast to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, who previously played basketball for Northeast.

He told the audience after his first semester, he had a change in direction in his life.

I realized that my priorities in life had shifted, and that being a good student was something extremely valued in the U.S….therefore I decided to step away from basketball and interviewed for the RA/SA Team, a group of students who work for the Residence Life Department.”

Receiving the Northeast Faculty Association Student Excellence Scholarship allowed Rodriguez the opportunity to continue his education at Northeast.

“(Scholarships) give students the opportunity to start major investments in their lives, such as attending college and actually finishing that process and graduating. This scholarship means a lot to me! It is an amazing feeling - it motivates me to be better every single day I wake up, because I know that if I keep working and striving towards my dreams, my efforts can be recognized at some point, like they were many, many times here at Northeast Community College.”

Three other students were recognized during the luncheon for being honored as 2017 Siemens Technical Scholars by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program and the Siemens Foundation. Tyler Fuelberth, Central City, and Justin Goesch, Spencer, utility line majors, and Ian Folkers, Hartington, diesel technology, are among 51 students nationally to receive the scholarship – an equivalent of more than a year’s worth of tuition.

The Siemens Technical Scholars Selection Committee identified exemplary community college STEM programs, such as Northeast’s diesel technology and utility line programs that deliver exceptional training for technical STEM jobs in areas ranging from power plant technology to healthcare.

The Scholarship Luncheon closed with a special tribute to the late J. Paul McIntosh, who passed away earlier this year. The former Northeast Board of Governors and Foundation Board member regularly attended the luncheon and provided students with inspirational messages. Over the years, McIntosh, his wife, Eleanor, and their family have supported many Northeast initiatives, and students through scholarships. They also encouraged other donors to create endowed scholarships by establishing funds to match their initial gifts. 

Over the past few years, the family would also host the McIntosh Scholarship Recipient Luncheon on campus to meet the students they have financially supported.

Following a recent luncheon, one recipient said, “It was very obvious that the McIntosh’s really do care about the students they have helped throughout the years. I finally got to meet the man and woman who helped me fulfill my dreams in continuing my family legacy of being a journalist. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity of sitting across the table from such an extraordinary couple.”

The luncheon concluded with a video tribute to McIntosh.

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