Thirty-four students received Osher scholarships, the result of a statewide community college scholarship fund established by the Bernard Osher Foundation in 2011.
The scholarships, ranging from $200 to $1,250, were awarded during a breakfast event at Grossmont College. To be considered for the scholarship, students were required to write a personal essay. They each told moving stories of the path they had taken to excel in college.
The scholarships were created from a variety of sources, including private donors who want to honor a deceased family member or colleague; philanthropic businesses that want to assist college students with their education; or college departments that want to find another way to serve their students.
Among the scholarship winners was James McAllister, who came to Cuyamaca College after serving 13 years in the Marine Corps. McAllister is studying computer science and plans to transfer to San Diego State University after earning his associate degree in university studies. McAllister received a $500 scholarship from Barnes and Noble.
McAllister said the scholarship money will enable him to buy the books and supplies he needs for his education.
“As a college student, when you buy supplies, you want to get the best you can,” McAllister said. “I’ll be able to do that this semester so I can graduate with honors.”
Another scholarship winner was Tareen Mekany, a Grossmont College student who has extensively volunteered for Sharp Grossmont Hospital, UCSD Moores Cancer Center, Rady Children’s Hospital and Habitat for Humanity. She received the Jack McAuley Memorial Scholarship.
Mekany has also maintained a 4.0 grade point average, works part-time, and takes part in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. A first-generation American, her parents fled Iraq following the 1990 Gulf War. Her mother and older brother had to stay in Jordan for three years until they could join her father in El Cajon.
Mekany, who hopes to earn a Ph.D. in psychology, said she learned from her parents that education is key.
“I wouldn’t have succeeded if it weren’t for the awesome support I’ve received,” she said. “Grossmont helped me discover who I am and the people here let me know that whatever I wanted to do and whatever field I wanted to study, they would be there for me.”
Thirty-four students received Osher scholarships, the result of a statewide community college scholarship fund established by the Bernard Osher Foundation in 2011. Osher, a Bay Area philanthropist, committed $50 million to the fund and challenged colleges to raise money to establish the scholarships.
Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges raised almost $850,000 and were two of the 31 institutions in the state that reached – and exceeded – their fundraising goals set by the Osher Foundation. Through a statewide endowment fund, scholarships will be awarded in perpetuity to students at the two colleges.
Among the Osher scholarship winners was Carlos Ornelas Zatarain, who received a $500 scholarship. Zatarain, who is from Borrego Springs said he is working 30 hours a week in addition to attending school full-time. He said he is supporting himself and living with roommates to lessen his parents’ financial burden.
“The scholarship gives me some breathing room between my paychecks so I don’t have to worry so much,” he said.
More information about the Foundation for Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges is available at http://foundation.gcccd.edu/ or by contacting Executive Director of Development Erich Foeckler at firstname.lastname@example.org.