Valencia Foundation Scholarship Program Helps Students Succeed

Tehsina Haq, Reporter

On November 8, Valencia College’s West Campus Career Center and Student Development held “Career Ready Festival” where Amanda Little, Coordinator of Foundation Scholarships and Melissa Shank, Administrative Assistant of Learning Support, were offering money to students through the Valencia College Foundation Scholarship series. They started their project earlier on February 22 during COVID-19.

According to Student Loan Hero, fifty-five percent of bachelor’s degree recipients from four-year public and private universities carried debt from student loans. Education, a necessity of human beings, is becoming a luxury for students. Consequently, students are looking for different funding options, and scholarships are the most lucrative choice. Needless to say, the amount of scholarships is less than the need of the students. Therefore, the scholarship committee must choose wisely while giving out the money and to make sure the candidate is worthy, they must go through a rigorous process.

Valencia College

Valencia College always helps and represents the underprivileged. In Atlas, students can apply for scholarships online. They must fill up the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form by creating an account with social security number, providing personal information, and authoring an essay describing why they need the scholarship. Scholarships are given based on merit, need, sometimes from a church or organization. Relying on information after assessing the student’s essay, the application matches you to different scholarship opportunities. The website is https://valencia.org/scholarships.php .

According to Little and Shank, students give up on essay writing. They start the application but have a tough time writing. Here they help the students to tell their story. Writing about oneself can be tricky and exhausting, but every scholarship in the USA requires an essay. They help students to learn about what scholarships are available, how to tell their personal story in an essay, and they provide sample essays that gained scholarships in the past for practical reference. Although Valencia College has a Writing Center, it does not help specifically to write scholarship essays, where students must describe how they faced challenges, and overcame difficulty. 

In their first online series during the pandemic, students from all the campuses participated. The series is a set of four parts. In the first part of the series, coordinators make students aware of the different useful resources, for example the Financial Center, library, International Student Services etc. In the second series, they talk about student testimonials, and essay writing. They discuss the importance of recommendation, how to make the application stand out, and take a two-hour writing workshop. In the third part of the series, they talk about transfer scholarships from partner universities, namely University of Central Florida (UCF), University of Florida (UF), Rollins and other institutions. Little says, “This part of the series we talk about rules, regulations, requirements of unique students with unconventional situations. ISS does a Zoom breakout room for international students”. 

Dual enrolled students need to be a full-time Valencia student to be eligible. In the fourth part of the series, they have a review of the scholarship application.

 After every series, they offer quizzes on Kahoot!, and the highest score gets a grand prize basket. Students who attend all the sessions can win interesting gifts through a raffle draw. They also offer optional in-person writing sessions at Valencia College East, West, and Osceola campuses. 

After the first series, the applicants’ numbers doubled. Their goal is to reduce the fear of writing and prevent the situation where the majority of students stop at the essay writing segment of the scholarship application. They make sure that students are comfortable to write about their life and ready ahead of their time. After their amazing initiative, the number of applicants drastically increased. Their last event participated was the Valencia College West Campus Spirit event on November 20. Little and Shank are looking forward to their Spring 2023 series starting February 2.