Washington State Community College (WSCC) was buzzing with excitement as more than 200 people gathered for the WSCC Foundation’s Annual Scholarship Reception and Awards Ceremony on Thursday, April 26. The event brought scholarship donors, recipients, and their families together to celebrate the academic achievement of students and the generosity of donors.
Students were invited to the event only knowing they were selected for a Foundation scholarship. But the details of the scholarship, including the donor and the amount, were unveiled upon their arrival. At the reception, filled with handshakes, hugs, and smiles, the students connected with the individuals who made an impact in their lives through the generosity of a scholarship. One special connection was WSCC student Dennis Morris and his donor, Mr. Henry Goehring, Jr. Morris received the Henry Goehring Excellence in Engineering Scholarship valued at $1,000.
At first glance, Morris may not be who you would expect to be included in the list of students receiving academic scholarships. A high school drop-out who, at 27, has experienced a lifetime of uphill battles. In 2013 Dennis was reeling from the loss of his two-year-old son, Trent. Lost in grief, Morris often found himself tinkering under the hood of a car. “It was more of a distraction,” he explained. But it was those moments of distraction that helped him deal with his grief. “I found my passion through depression.”
His next step was turning that newly discovered passion into a career, but to do that, he knew he needed an education. He enrolled in the Adult Basic and Literacy Education (ABLE) program to earn his GED. Here he met Julie Stoffel, an ABLE instructor whom he credits with encouraging him to set his sights higher than just his GED. “Julie is the reason I’m here [in college],” Morris acknowledged.
He persevered to earn his diploma and the same day Morris received his GED, he got word he was accepted into the Diesel Truck Systems program at WSCC. Today, he has a 4.0 GPA and is on track to earn his Associate of Applied Science in Diesel Truck Systems in the Fall of 2019.
Morris, who attended the event with his mother and Stoffel by his side, said the scholarship will help him tremendously with tuition and books. Says Morris, “I can’t express how grateful I am for any amount of help I can get for my education.”
While Morris’s story is uniquely his, displays of perseverance, leadership and success are prevalent among the students receiving WSCC Foundation scholarships. In fact, 64 students were awarded more than $50,000 for the 2018-19 academic year. “We are thrilled that over 200 attendees joined us for tonight’s ceremony,” said Anna Rittenhouse, Executive Director, WSCC Foundation and Alumni Development. “A testament to the community’s support of what Washington State and our students mean to the region.”
“Since the Foundation’s inception, the scholarship program has played a critical role in the success of hundreds of Washington State students,” said Rittenhouse. “Each scholar has benefited from the generosity of our donors and the impact of their gifts can be felt not only on award day, but for years to come as the recipients graduate and go on to successful careers in the Mid-Ohio Valley.”
The Washington State Community College Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charitable corporation administered by a Board of Directors composed of community leaders and institutional representatives. Gifts made to the Foundation are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law and are used exclusively to support the College’s mission, its programs, and its students. To learn more about how you can establish a scholarship at WSCC, please contact Foundation Executive Director Anna Rittenhouse at 740-568-1940 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more than 45 years, Washington State Community College has provided residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley the opportunity to realize dreams, to enhance skills, and to broaden understanding. Whether you are a recent high school graduate or an adult student looking to move your life in a new direction, Washington State has the classes to suit your needs. For more information about Washington State Community College, visit www.wscc.edu or call 740.374.8716.