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Northeast scholarship recipients thank donors at special luncheon

Northeast scholarship recipients thank donors at special luncheon

NORFOLK, Neb. – College students have many stories about their successes in college. For many, they wouldn’t be there without the help of strangers. On a recent Tuesday afternoon, scholarship recipients at Northeast Community College and their sponsors had the opportunity to come together and share how such generosity has been the impetus to get on the road to success.

“I love this event for so many reasons,” said Dr. Leah Barrett, college president, in kicking off the annual luncheon. “It is time for us to learn of our students’ journey and their hopes for the future. It is time to say, ‘thank you’ for your generosity and commitment to support our students’ educational and workforce goals.”

The number of scholarships Northeast Community College has awarded continues to increase annually but it has not kept up with the full needs of its current and prospective students. The number of applications continues to exceed the number of scholarships that can be awarded. In 2021-2022, Northeast’s Financial Aid Office received more than 800 online applications for scholarships. Only 526 scholarship awards were made. For the current 2022-23 academic year, there was an increase to 1,106 applications. 

Seventy-eight percent of degree seeking students at Northeast Community College received financial aid during the past academic year. Sixty-four percent of Northeast students are eligible for Pell Grants, which denotes to the federal government that it believes the family is able to contribute less than $5,200 per year to the student’s cost of education. 

“Students aspire to attend Northeast Community College, but many times - through no fault of their own - they run into roadblocks in achieving their dreams,” Barrett said. “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, help make those dreams come true.” 

Barrett also emphasized that scholarships aid in retention and can help grow the region’s workforce. Eighty-seven percent of Northeast graduates in 2022 are employed, live, work, and pay taxes in Nebraska. Of the graduates who are employed in Nebraska, fifty-two percent live and work within the college’s 20-county service area. Also, ninety-nine percent are either employed or continuing their education.

Attendees also heard from students who have benefited from scholarships provided by donors. Each had a story of some hardships in their lives and how the generosity of others, including scholarship donors, and support from family, friends, faculty, staff and students has allowed them to push through and succeed in their education. 

Daisy Mora, of Norfolk, began her journey with Northeast in 2012. She knew what she wanted to do but did not know she was going to be able to accomplish her dream until she heard about scholarships. 

“The last two years of college has been better than ever. I was able to focus on my classes instead of trying to figure out how my classes would be paid for,” Mora said. “Because of scholarships I was able to graduate with my associate degree in December 2022. I can pridefully say that because of scholarships I was able to accomplish being in the Honor list all four semesters of my college career at Northeast Community College.”

Mora is currently a student at Wayne State College.

Daryl Lambert, of Wayne, will graduate from Northeast in May with an associate degree in nursing. The recipient of scholarships from the Dr. Jagmohan & Shobhana Desai Family, Northeast Nebraska Public Power District, Northeast Phi Theta Kappa Tau Chi Chapter, and the Veterans Administration provided him tuition assistance allowing him to achieve his dream of being a nurse and providing health care in rural community. 

He said one of the things that held him back from going to school was the fear of not being able to afford it.

“With the help of scholarships and tuition assistance, those worries were taken away and instead of focusing on how I was going to afford school, I was able to focus on learning so that I could be the best nurse that I could be,” Lambert said. “Your continued dedication to this institution of learning means the world to me and my family and I thank you for believing in me and awarding me the scholarships I received. Not only have you helped support my current educational goals, but these scholarships have helped me to be a full-time student and has laid the course to my future.”

This past year, scholarships in the amount of $250,000 were presented to Northeast Community College students with an average award of approximately $600. Seventy-two percent of Northeast students are first-generation college students.

In Dec. 2021, Northeast Community College received the largest, single gift in the institution’s history - $15 million-dollars from MacKenzie Scott. The support created the Student Success Endowment, which creates pathways for everyone in the 20-county service area to earn a certificate or degree.

The endowment is allowing Northeast to engage with under-represented and under-served students more effectively by providing scholarships to people who may not otherwise be able to attend. One of them is the College Access Scholarship. For the 2022-23 academic year, the scholarship was designed to assist first generation students with financial need and no previous degree. 

Recipients of the College Access Scholarship must participate in the College Success Program, which includes required meetings with an academic advisor. The scholarship is a renewable, two-year award, if the student is making satisfactory academic progress. 

“Our goal at Northeast Community College is to assist all students so they may achieve a successful post-secondary education regardless of their financial situation,” Barrett said. “Support through the Student Success Endowment is one of the ways that is making this possible.”


                                                                                            PHOTO CUTLINE 

Northeast Community College student Daryl Lambert, Wayne, speaks to an audience at the College’s annual Scholarship Luncheon in the Lifelong Learning Center recently. Lambert who will graduate with an associate degree in nursing was one of several students who joined their scholarship sponsors at the annual event to recognize the latter’s generosity.