Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Scholarships awarded to 135 Grossmont and Cuyamaca College students

EL CAJON - More than $81,000 in scholarships were awarded Saturday to 135 Grossmont and Cuyamaca College students who excelled academically while many of them overcame life-changing challenges. 

Fall 2016 Osher scholarship recipients
“These are remarkable students from all walks of life,” said Cindy L. Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. “We are tremendously proud of all that they have accomplished.” 

Grateful students said the scholarships — ranging from $200 to $2,500 — will enable them to continue their education and pursue their dream careers.

 “I’m so blessed to be receiving this award,” said Monserrat Gonzales, a Cuyamaca College student who received the Navy Seals Foundation Scholarship. “As a mother of three and married, it’s difficult to provide for the books and the schooling. This is definitely helping me out.”


To be considered for the scholarships, students were required to write a personal essay. They told compelling stories of the obstacles they had overcome on their path to college.  

  •  Meron Cholagh, a Grossmont College student, fled Iraq with his family when he was 11 years old. He came to El Cajon a year later with no English skills. He is now fluent in four languages and will be graduating with three associate degrees and two certificates before transferring to San Diego State University.
  • Carolyn Fisher first attended college after graduating from high school three decades ago. She now has two adult children and is back at Grossmont College, where she is pursuing a communications degree. She plans to transfer to San Diego State University, with hopes of earning a master’s degree and returning to Grossmont College as a professor.
  • Evan Esparza didn’t think about going to college when he was growing up. He’s now Cuyamaca College’s student trustee and vice president of the college’s Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. He’s hoping to eventually go to law school.
     The scholarships were created from a variety of sources, including private donors who want to honor a deceased family member or colleague; businesses that want to assist college students with their education; or college departments that want to find another way to serve their students.
    One of the new awards set up this year was the Retiree Network Scholarship, established by retired employees of the college district. Two students each received one of the $500 scholarships. 
    Bill Garrett, president of the college district’s Governing Board, and his wife, Judy, chair of the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges council, sponsor three Osher scholarships for Grossmont and Cuyamaca College students.  
    “We recognize how important it is for so many students to have that little extra push that keeps them in school,” Garrett said. “This is a way that we can give back to the community and to our students to make sure they complete their education.” 
    The Osher scholarships are 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. 
    Cuyamaca and Grossmont College 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.  
    To view a video of the scholarship breakfast, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Az84N21tXIs  .