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Wednesday, October 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Guest Opinion

Mary Cullinan: Help a student attend college: Support a scholarship

Mary Cullinan

Kassidy worried she would have to drop out of EWU because of family illness and dwindling financial resources. A scholarship offered her renewed opportunity. “I can’t express enough gratitude for this scholarship,” she said. “I hope to pay it forward when I reach my goal of becoming a nurse.”

Makenzie was a high school valedictorian. A 4.0 student, she had planned on going to college since she was 8 years old. She saved her money and worked several jobs. Unfortunately, her family situation was challenging. “I had no one to show me a good pathway. As high school was approaching, I took a look at my life. I knew I had to become resilient in order to become successful. I started taking charge, pushing myself to pay attention in school and forcing myself to get involved.” Focused on math and science, Makenzie is able to thrive at EWU through grants and a Presidential Scholarship.

Scholarships aren’t just important for many EWU students: They’re essential. In Spokane County, the overall average annual wage is approximately $44,785. Only 18.6 percent of Spokane County residents have a four-year degree. The majority of EWU students are the first in their family to attend college; some are the first to finish high school. Many EWU students work two or three jobs to stay in school. Significant numbers work to support their families as well as themselves.

At EWU, we do everything we can to keep costs for students as low as possible and to help students minimize debt; half our students graduate with no debt. However, many people in our region believe they can’t afford to attend college. Sometimes students drop out midyear because they can’t afford to stay in school. Some of those students never return to the university, and the trajectories of their careers and their lives are forever changed.

Dante is a junior with a 3.93 GPA. Double majoring in political science and communications, he sees a future of service in government, starting locally and expanding as far as his talents will take him. “My parents always tried really hard to get me whatever I needed, but when it came to college, I knew I was going to have to do all the work without them. Neither of them went to college or knew any way for me to get in.” Scholarships are helping Dante achieve his EWU degree.

I’m very grateful to everyone who supports scholarships for our students. The need remains huge, and the impact is significant. If you want to make a real and long-lasting difference in someone’s life in this new year, please consider helping students through a gift to a scholarship fund.

Your dollars will help transform lives.

Mary Cullinan is president of Eastern Washington University.

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