By Rebecca Gordon
“The foundation has given out over 1,000 scholarships in the last year,” Shana Barker, Scholarship and Alumni Coordinator at the Washtenaw Community College Foundation said.
She rested on the stage in the Morris Lawrence building after the nearly two hour long luncheon that was given on Nov. 29, to honor not only the WCC donors, but the scholarship recipients.
The WCC Foundation hosted and organized the event, inviting both students who were awarded scholarships in 2016, but also those who received them again in 2017.
Among those recipients, and chosen to speak at the luncheon as a reflection of who WCC the students were, was Evelyn Hernandez-Jordan, Damita Brown, and Johntyler Iacovetta.
Hernandez-Jordan was the recipient of the Masco Construction Scholarship, which she has received since fall 2014. The scholarship covers the cost of her tuition and books, and will be offered until she graduates with her associates in Construction Management.
Hernandez- Jordan described a speed bump to her education; she became a mother during her second semester at WCC. The foundation, and her scholarship, made the difference.
“Being able to not worry about my tuition, made it possible for me to be able to go to school,” Hernandez-Jordan said during her speech at the luncheon. “I’m very, very grateful and fortunate. So now I’m able to say, you know what, it doesn’t matter how hard it is, I’m still going to school.”
The Al & Maxine Solvay Scholarship was awarded to Brown, who is pursuing occupational studies, and graduated from WCC in May 2017. She continues to attend part-time while also being employed with the Ypsilanti Community School System.
Brown began her studies in March 2016, intending to pursue a culinary degree.
“Being a single mom, you’ve got to cook. You can’t afford to eat out,” Brown said. “I just knew, I was supposed to go to school to be a chef.”
After speaking with advisers, and instructors Brown decided to pursue a different plan that allowed her to graduate in May.
“I had been back and forth with my higher education for years, but I knew that this was the right time,” Brown said.
Brown closed her speech with a favorite saying: ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’. Her continuing education at WCC is her effort to always ‘fill her cup’.
“I am the cup,” Brown said.
Johntyler Iacovetta was the day’s final student speaker, and four time recipient of the foundation scholarship at WCC, this year being awarded the David D. Baker scholarship.
Iacovetta spent six years in the U.S. Navy, being inspired to join the service after growing up in New York, and his mother surviving the downed towers on 9/11.
Iacovetta worked in nuclear operations during his stint in the Navy, and when he left the service he choose build upon his experience in nuclear power.
“I was going to achieve a bachelor’s in science from the No. 1 nuclear engineering school in the country: The University of Michigan,” Iacovetta said during his speech. “It’s not as easy as just saying, ‘I’m just going to go there’. I applied to Michigan, and I was turned down.”
Iacovetta had never previously attended college, and had graduated high school seven years previous to applying to U of M. The school advised him to attend EMU or WCC.
“I choose WCC for multiple reasons,” Iacovetta said. “Comparing articulation agreements, I found that WCC actually had more transferable classes. I also found that the cost to attend WCC was vastly lower than at Eastern Michigan.”
Iacovetta choose to save his 36 month G.I. Bill for use at U of M. He was accepted into the nuclear engineering program at U of M, and begins classes in January.
The day was not only about the scholarship recipients. The luncheon was also the Foundation’s way of honoring the assistance provided by donors, and the work put in by those who work for the Foundation and the chair of its board.
Ten endowments, scholarships offered by the WCC Foundation, were completed during 2016 and 2017. Four donors, who attributed two separate endowments that were completed attended the luncheon this year; Stephen and Jeannine Galetti; and Kristina Kayser and Lowell Weiner.
Donors came in all sizes however, not just those who established an endowment. Among those donors were staff and instructors from WCC.
“I’m very involved with the Foundation, both as a President, and as a donor. Because I believe in it,” Rose Bellanca, WCC President said. “A scholarship here, really can change a life. It does change a life.”