Good Point--Washington fruit industry scholarships change lives
Education is an investment that provides returns to individuals and society.
Yadira Castaneda recently received the Jacque McDougall Memorial Scholarship, funded by McDougall and Sons of Wenatchee, and Cecelia Guzman received a CCM scholarship funded by Columbia Marketing International, Columbia Fruit Packing, and McDougall & Sons. Both scholarships are equivalent to 85 percent of the cost of tuition, books, room and board at a Washington public university ($17,000) and can be renewed for four years. Castaneda will use her award at Stanford University, California, while Guzman will attend the University of Washington. Castaneda’s mother and Guzman’s parents are employees at McDougall and Sons, Wenatchee. Pictured are: Back row—Scott McDougall, Stuart McDougall, Brian McDougall, Albino Guzman. Front row—Jennifer Witherbee, Maria Castaneda, Yadira Castaneda, Cecilia Guzman, Carmen Guzman.
Washington Apple Education Foundation scholarships change lives. This year in Washington State, students will receive over $400,000 in scholarship aid from members of the tree fruit industry through WAEF. Achieving a college degree leads to employment stability, higher earning potential, and increased job-related fulfillment for the recipient. Just as great are the benefits to society: with increased incomes come higher tax contributions and fewer demands on social programs; increased knowledge leads to higher civic engagement and voter involvement; and college success for parents correlates with higher scholastic achievements for their children.
How does a scholarship application become an award? More than 50 volunteers serve on the WAEF scholarship selection committee. Their job is to thoroughly review each application, matching students with donor-developed criteria unique to each scholarship. This is how the process works:
Promotion begins in the fall with distribution of applications and promotional posters to schools, warehouses, and industry employers.
Throughout the months of September through February WAEF staff members visit high schools providing scholarship training to students.
March 1 marks the deadline when all applications must be postmarked. Each application is reviewed by the foundation to identify which awards a student may qualify for consideration. This is based on criteria provided by the scholarship donor such as the student’s high school, college, parents’ employer, etc.
Once students are allocated to various award categories, selection committee members take over.
The WAEF scholarship committee is divided into 11 selection committees, each consisting of three to five members. Ideally, each committee is assigned 60 or fewer applications to review. On average, each application requires 15 to 20 minutes of review by each member of the committee.
Committee members use established criteria to evaluate each applicant. This information is then compared by each selection committee member individually with donors’ stated selection priorities.
Once each member establishes his or her top candidates, the selection committees meet. Collectively, members determine recipients for the scholarship awards assigned to their selection committee along with alternates for each scholarship.
Before award decisions become final, representatives from each selection committee assemble and compare results. If it is determined one or more students have dominated the awards, this group redistributes awards to increase the number of students receiving industry scholarships.
By mid-May, we have our final slate of recipients. Personal announcements occur at the students’ high schools or by mail to students at college.
The selection process is fine-tuned annually to ensure the best students are selected for each donor-sponsored scholarship. This year, 358 students applied for scholarship assistance. In mid-May, we’ll know how many of these bright students we get to help, and we will also know how many we need to refuse. Likely more than 200 students will be turned away this year. Numbers don’t communicate the impact this could potentially make for an individual student. With tuition rates increasing at such an alarming rate, ensuring that young people from our communities achieve access to higher education is a real concern.
Tuition alone at Washington State University for the 2009-2010 school year was $8,488. Add in books and on-campus room and board, and students needed almost $19,000 for one year’s enrollment. Community colleges have traditionally been an inexpensive, yet very effective, alternative. Inexpensive is, of course, relative. A full-time student at Wenatchee Valley College paid $2,925 in tuition last year. To achieve $2,925 in earnings, students must work over 30 hours each week during their three-month summer break and save every dollar earned. Assuming lodging was provided by parents, expenses for books, transportation, and food would need to be covered by students’ in-school jobs. At one time, a student could earn enough money each summer to cover costs for one year at a four-year institution. For now at least, students are barely able to achieve that at a community college.
Scholarships are created through voluntary contributions from individuals who find this an effective tool to make a difference in student lives. This form of social giving is tax-deductible and allows the donor to target funds within one’s own community and to the programs of highest value to the giver. Education is an investment that provides impressive returns for the recipient and for society. If you’re interested in learning more about helping students through the Washington Apple Education Foundation, please contact me at (509) 663-7713 or check the Web site at www.waef.org. It’s never too late to help turn a student’s dream of a college education into reality.