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Luncheon honors scholarship recipients and sponsors

Luncheon honors scholarship recipients and sponsors

NORFOLK, NE – 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 recently.

“Over the years, many graduates of Northeast have experienced the generosity of others, first-hand, through the gift of scholarships. Today, we are here to recognize these very special people who assist our students in succeeding with their education,” said Dr. Michael Chipps, president.

He said there are remarkable stories of Northeast students who aspire to attend college, but many times, through no fault of their own, they run into obstacles in achieving their dreams.

“Sure, they can take out loans, but for many, the long-term payback just isn’t feasible. In addition, factors such as family and job commitments often prevent these students from having the financial resources necessary to attain their degree or degrees to be successful in life. However, people such as you - our donors - make those dreams come true.”

In the fall 2018 semester, 52-percent of Northeast degree seeking students were first generation college attendees, which means neither parent has acquired a bachelor’s degree. In addition, 64-percent of Northeast credit students are eligible for Pell Grants, which means they have an expected family contribution of just over $5,328. For 2017-2018, 453 Northeast Foundation scholarship awards were presented in the amount of $350,110 with an average award of $773.

Chipps said the number of scholarships Northeast has awarded, however, hasn’t kept up with the needs. 

“In fact, the number of scholarship applications has nearly doubled in just four-years,” he said. “In 2018-2019 for example, our Financial Aid Office received over 770 online applications for scholarships.”

Chipps said scholarships serve as a college access and recruitment tool, providing assistance to students who may otherwise not be able to attend Northeast. He said they also serve as a retention tool.

Chipps also emphasized that once students graduate from Northeast, they become successful. He cited the recently released 2019 Northeast Graduate Report, which shows that of last year’s graduates who are employed, 85-percent of them live, work and pay taxes in Nebraska. Of those who are employed in the state, 58-percent are employed within the college’s 20-county service area.

In addition, 99-percent of Northeast graduates were either employed or continuing their education during the past year.

Three students, who are members of the TRIO program, spoke of how scholarships have assisted in achieving their goals at Northeast. TRIO is a federally funded grant program designed to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students and individuals with disabilities through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.

Tia Smith, Neligh, the recipient of the Delta Kappa Gamma and Paul R. Rohrke scholarships, is a first generation college student who will graduate in May with an Associate of Arts degree in Education – Secondary.

Smith, who serves as president of the Student Activities Council, earned national recognition this spring as she won the Student Programmer of the Year award for two and four year colleges and universities from the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities.

She told the luncheon audience that said she would have not have experienced college the way she has without the assistance of scholarship donors.

“With the scholarships I have received, I was able to work a few hours each week and be involved on my campus and focus on my education. It is because of donors like you that students like me get to have this college experience,” she said. “Donors, the generosity you have put forward in granting these scholarships have truly impacted every student sitting in this room. What you are doing is making a difference in the lives of these students. I hope that one day I am able to give back as you all are giving today.”

Amber Schaad, Columbus, also a first generation college student, is a freshman who is majoring in accounting. She is the recipient of the Nebraska Open and the Stan & Cindy Christensen Family scholarships. She is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and serves as a student ambassador.

When she was young, Schaad was taught a core value that a person needs to work for what they receive – which includes paying her own way through college.  

“All of my involvements on campus and future plans would not be possible if I didn’t have such a great support system surrounding me and leading me in the right direction. One of those huge support systems is local scholarship donors that made not only my experience here at Northeast possible, but hundreds of other students as well,” Schaad said. “Having generous people who have donated money for scholarships is what helped me decide that I can afford college and that I can be successful and continue my next chapters of life. And that all started at Northeast Community College.”  

Daulton Thomas, Norfolk, the recipient of the Robert E. Thomas Broadcasting Scholarship, will graduate in May with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Media Arts.

Thomas, who is active in the Broadcasting Club, said receiving the scholarship has made his college experience “very easy.”

“Not only educationally, but financially,” he said. “This scholarship has also helped me to be debt-free. There are many great things scholarships can do, so (students) never not apply for a scholarship.”

Chipps told the large audience gathered for this year’s luncheon that while the three students’ stories are compelling, many other Northeast students share the same experiences.

“This is exactly why your financial assistance is critical to the success of Northeast students. Your generous contributions help establish which routes they will take as they plan the road map to the rest of their lives.”



                                                  PHOTO CUTLINE


Student Amber Schaad, Columbus, speaks during the 2019 Scholarship Luncheon at Northeast Community College recently. The annual event is held to recognize scholarship recipients and their sponsors.