Ventura, Calif.—The Ventura College Foundation presented scholarships to 140 students during its 32nd Annual Scholarship Awards luncheon and ceremony, Saturday, May 4 at the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach.
Ventura College students received $326,529 in scholarship funds. Some earned multiple scholarships. “I’ve had the opportunity to observe and interact with hundreds of scholarship recipients,” says Dr. Ruth Hemming, the vice chair of the VC Foundation Board and the chair of the Scholarships & Grants committee. “Many have completed their education and returned to the community committed to giving back. Some have established scholarships of their own. ‘Life-changing’ is not too strong a term to describe the impact on them.”
Speaking at the luncheon was Ventura College student, Erick Pina, 31, winner of the Martinez y Ewens Anasazi Scholarship, and the Niamatullah SA and A-Ishah MA Memorial Scholarship. This is the second year that Pina has received scholarships for his high level of academic work.
Attending Ventura College has made a big impact on Pina’s life. Addiction to drugs had set him back. Once clean, he enrolled in Ventura College hoping to, at most, earn Cs in his classes. The now straight A student and a campus Circle Kiwanis International board member, Pina graduated this spring with a AA in sociology, and will have earned two more degrees in social behavioral science and in criminal justice next spring. He was selected to be a First Year Experience Peer Leader for Ventura College and a Ventura College Foundation Student Ambassador for the coming fall semester. “Being awarded the scholarships means someone out there believes in me,” says Pina. “Donors can see that I can truly overcome obstacles in my life.”
Pina says attending college changed how he looked at the world. “My success at Ventura College saved my life,” says Pina. “I had no confidence in myself. That all changed. I’ll be the first person to graduate from college in my family. I’ll be setting a good example for nieces, nephews and my daughter.”
Honored in memoriam during the luncheon were endowed scholarship creators who have left a lasting legacy to the school. Honored were Helen Yunker, George Tillquist, Miriam Schwab, Michael A Ewens and Frank Cavola.
Molly Gallagher, 20, was one of the recipients of the Helen Yunker Music Scholarship. Gallagher plays the viola. She aspires to be a professional musician and to teach the next generation of musicians. Yunker, who passed away in 2018, was passionate about music. Over almost three decades, Yunker awarded numerous scholarships and donated more than $945,000. Upon her passing, the VC Foundation received $2 million from her estate to establish endowments for the Ventura College Music Department and the Opera and Musical Theatre program.
“This is the second time I’ve been honored with the Helen Yunker Music Scholarship,” says Gallagher, who will be transferring to a four-year university in the fall. “She was such an incredible and generous woman and I will forever be grateful for her support. The scholarships have lessened the financial burden of going to college. With the support of the foundation, I was able to buy a new viola which otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. I have become a better student because of the generosity of the foundation. Being a successful student makes me a better person and gives me the courage to make my dreams possible.”
“The individuals and foundations that have created these scholarships derive benefits from their generosity as well, both from receiving the heart-felt gratitude of the students but also from knowing that they are impacting the future in a positive way,” says Hemming. “Many students stay in touch with their donors and keep them informed of their progress through their education and beyond.”
Established in 1983, the Ventura College Foundation provides financial support to the students and the programs of Ventura College to facilitate student success and grow the impact and legacy of Ventura College as a vital community asset. The Foundation also hosts the Ventura College Foundation Marketplace; an outdoor shopping experience held every weekend on the Ventura College campus east parking lot. For more information, contact Julie Harvey at (805) 289-6502 or [email protected] or visit www.VCgiving.org.