Opportunities available: The importance of applying for scholarships
Austin Hurston, a political science major, said he was thrilled when he was accepted into the Native American Political Leadership Program, a scholarship program through George Washington University in Washington D.C.
Hurston served as vice president to the Native American Student Association for the past semester, a club dedicated to ensuring Native Americans have a place on campus.
The scholarship pays for up to nine classes, airfare, and housing. Good grades and a recommendation were two of the requirements of the scholarship.
Hurston had both.
The program, he said, was one of the only scholarships that Hurston was aware of. Hurston said it was his initiative to seize an opportunity, not luck, that helped him earn the scholarship.
“Being someone who is not in poverty but doesn’t have comfortable assets, going to college is not easy. College is not as comfortable as you’d like it to be,” Hurston said.
Students can be subject to a mindset that applying for scholarships takes an excess of effort.
Why write another essay for something you might not even win, right? Wrong.
Applying is the only way to guarantee your chance of getting a scholarship.
For those in the murky space between the lower and middle class, financial help can be hard to find. A student that does not qualify for financial aid may not be able to afford college without going thousands of dollars into debt.
Hurston said he believes that students should know more about their scholarship opportunities, no matter how small the award might be.
“Everything counts. If they don’t know about it, they’re missing out. Five hundred dollars can cover your fees. It’s a lot easier to make the payments, then,” he said.
Marvin Carmichael, the past Chairman of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said a university does its very best to award all of its scholarship money in a school year. The belief that thousands of dollars of scholarship money goes to waste each year is a myth. If any scholarship money isn’t awarded, it is usually due to strange timing or very specific requirements for eligibility.
Colleges and universities want to award the money, Carmichael said, they just need students to apply.
Oklahoma City Community College has its own catalogue of scholarships available to students of various backgrounds, financial situations, degree plans and career tracks. The OCCC Foundation was formed in 1998 as a nonprofit organization to raise money to help the college and its students financially.
The eligibility requirements vary from one scholarship to another, covering a wide range of students who would benefit from financial help.
The Moore Service League Scholarship is a $500 scholarship available to graduates of Moore High School, Westmoore High School, or Southmoore High School. Writing a short essay and having a high school diploma from one of those three schools could earn you $500.
The Southeast High School Alumni Scholarship is similar, except you don’t have to graduate from Southeast High School to qualify. Students whose family members graduated from Southeast High School are qualified for the $500 scholarship.
Getting a degree in engineering? You could be awarded $1000 for intending to complete an Associate Degree in Pre-Engineering, Mathematics, GIS, or Physics at OCCC and having a GPA of 2.5 or above. The Engineers for Tomorrow Endowed Scholarship is one of many engineering focused scholarships.
Nursing students have an array of scholarship options, too. The Derek Calhoun Nursing Scholarship is a $500 scholarship for students with a minimum GPA of 2.75 that are enrolled in one of the four core nursing program courses.
Memorial funds in memory of former OCCC students, employees, and faculty alike have been set up in their honor. The Alejandro Rendon Sanchez Memorial Scholarship was made in memory of Alejandro Sanchez, a former employee of OCCC. The scholarship awards $750 to a Latino student who has completed at least 12 hours at OCCC, has a GPA of 2.5 or higher, and is involved in the community.
The Alejandro Rendon Sanchez Memorial Scholarship is one of dozens of scholarships that requires very little for eligibility, and involves writing a short essay. For someone who is in need of money to help pay for their education, the small effort that it takes to apply for scholarships is worth it.
“Just applying is an opportunity to get money,” Hurston said. “Even if it says to write a 500 word essay, a lot of students just won’t apply. Even if you don’t think you could get the scholarship, you should apply. Even if it’s not an $1000 scholarship, you could get ten different $150 scholarships and do well.”
There are nearly fifty scholarships offered by the OCCC Foundation that can be found and applied for at http://occc.academicworks.com.
Some of the available scholarships are listed below:
•The Black Student Association Scholarship is given to one member of the club who has made outstanding contributions to both the club and the college. It is not only based on academic merit, but on students who demonstrate great potential in spite of personal challenges. The scholarship amount varies.
•The Safari McDoulett Memorial Scholarship Fund is in memory of Safari McDoulett who was a graduate of US Grant High School. To qualify for this $1000 scholarship, you must be a graduate of US Grant High School, Capitol Hill High School, or Southeast High School in Oklahoma City. You must also have a GPA of 2.0 or higher, have a strong financial need for a scholarship, be involved in community service and/or have a part-time job, and have completed 12 credit hours at OCCC.
•The Bartlett Memorial Scholarship awards $500 to a student who has a declared major in The Division of Business, has completed a minimum of 12 hours at OCCC, and has a grade point average of 2.5 or above.
•The Rutledge Memorial Scholarship is available to a woman or man who is the sole provider of their family. It is a $500 scholarship for applicants who work 20 or more hours a week, have financial need to attend OCCC, have a GPA of at least 2.5, have completed 12 credit hours at OCCC, and are planning to obtain an Associate’s Degree from OCCC.
•The Jack Cain Memorial Scholarship is a $500 scholarship for a student with a minimum grade point average of 3.25 who has completed or is currently enrolled in Math 2104, Calculus or Analytic Geometry I, has a minimum GPA of 3.25, and is intent on completing an Associate Degree at OCCC.