Grossmont College scholarships are changing lives through education one life at a time

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The motto of Grossmont College, “changing lives through education,” was dramatically illustrated Saturday, Sept. 7, at a Scholarship Award Breakfast at which more than $45,000 was distributed to 75 students in awards ranging from $150 to $2000. Some students won multiple scholarships.

The motto of Grossmont College, “changing lives through education,” was dramatically illustrated Saturday, Sept. 7, at a Scholarship Award Breakfast at which more than $45,000 was distributed to 75 students in awards ranging from $150 to $2000. Some students won multiple scholarships.

As smiling student after student walked to the front of the Griffin Gate meeting hall to accept an award, those in the audience who knew the hardships that some of them had endured could not help but feel a wave of gratitude. Now, in large measure because someone had believed in them, the recipients are on their way to successful lives.

Selam Gebrekristos, the Scholarship Officer at Grossmont College, is herself no stranger to adversity, having fled with her parents and siblings from their home in Eritrea to a refugee camp in The Sudan, where she lived for several years before coming to live in the United States. “I’ve complained about things in my life and they were nothing compared to some of the things that these students went through at very young ages,” she told an interviewer.

The students had written of their lives in essays.  In Gebrekristos’ estimate, the essays are testaments to the resiliency of the human spirit and to how important it is for people to have relatives, educators, and other mentors in their lives who believe in their potential.

Because community colleges are such a great educational value at $46 per unit, an award of $500 can go a long way toward funding a full semester, and $1,000 can cover a year of tuition/ fees and educational supplies, Grossmont College President Sunita V. Cooke commented to the award recipients, their families and donors. 

Gebrekristos told an interviewer the scholarships provide students with an important emotional stimulus.  “They are about being believed in and being selected out of the thousands and thousands of students here,” Gebrekristos said.  “It is not free money; they work for it.  They have to write these essays. They have to do research.  They have to get letters of recommendation.  It’s not easy and that is why a lot of students don’t apply.  So when they are selected for a scholarship, it is a real honor.”

Grossmont College faculty members have been very important in the scholarship award process, Gebrekristos said..  They often tell her about hard-working students in their classes who could really benefit from scholarships.

In their essays, many students wrote about wanting to be like the mentors who have positively influenced their lives.  In addition to admired relatives, these often-included teachers, coaches, volunteers, and other agents of positive change in society.

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