MASON CITY – Students at North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) who received scholarships this year had an opportunity to show their gratitude during the 11th annual student Scholarship Recognition Luncheon held at the Muse Norris Conference Center on Monday, October 6, 2014. Almost 200 students, donors and community members attended the event.
“This is an important tradition that allows scholarship recipients the opportunity to personally thank the donors who made the scholarships possible,” said Dr. Steven Schulz, NIACC President. “Each student has a unique story to tell and this year’s student speakers shared their own amazing stories.”
The recognition program featured comments from Tony Coloff, a scholarship donor. Coloff, who founded North Iowa Broadcasting along with his wife, Sue, started his comments to attendees by saying, “Today is your lucky day. Anytime you pursue higher education, it’s your lucky day! When I attended Mason City Junior College, now NIACC, not everyone had the opportunity to attend college, I was able to go to college because of NIACC, and I want to say you’ve all made the right choice.” Coloff continued, “When NIACC was established almost one hundred years ago, unknown visionaries chose to pay it forward for future students to be educated. That’s why my wife and I are scholarship donors today. We want to offer financial support for these life changing opportunities to occur and to encourage students and others to do likewise.”
Several student scholarship recipients also spoke at NIACC’s scholarship recognition luncheon.
Kristin Bass is a sophomore at NIACC majoring in nursing. Bass received the Jo and Gus Brandt Scholarship and the Mae Greene Scholarship. Bass, from Mason City says, “Due to the scholarship gifts that I was awarded, I was able to afford to purchase my textbooks and software required for my Nursing II class. Without these scholarships, I would’ve been in a tough spot. As a single parent trying to balance my household finances and obtaining the necessary resources for my classes is a struggle. Thanks to these gifts, deciding which bills I need to pay and which to put off so I could buy my books was not something I had to worry about. This relieved a lot of stress.”
Hannah Hutcheson, a sophomore from Garner, received the NIACC Employee Scholarship this year. She shared with the crowd what receiving this scholarship has done for her.
“This scholarship has allowed me to attend college more affordably,” she said. “If someone is contemplating whether or not to become a scholarship donor, I would tell them that it could make the difference of someone going to college or not. It will make you feel good to know you made a difference and it won’t go unappreciated!” Hutcheson went on to thank the NIACC employees who donated the funds for this scholarship. “This scholarship has made a huge difference in my ability to afford college. Receiving this scholarship gave me self-confidence and made me believe in myself and to know I can do this.”
Glenn Kiss, a sophomore nursing student from California, was on the receiving end of life-saving care that nurses provided. The prognosis for recovery was not promising and due to this care he decided to pursue a nursing degree. Kiss is an adult student recipient of the Helen Perkins Thompson Scholarship.
Kiss shared, “As a testimony to the impact that those nurses had in my life will be to repay them and society by joining the field and having the opportunity to have an impact on the life of another, just as was done for me.”
Ethan Bye of Osage received the scholarship given in memory of Dr. David Pierce, the former NIACC president who passed away in January 2014. Bye, a freshman majoring in Environmental Sciences expressed sincere gratitude and said, “This tremendous award has helped allow me to further my education. Students these days focus more on the financial burden college brings, rather than the educational benefits college holds.” He continued, “I did not know Dr. Pierce personally, but from hearing of his work, I realize what a great role model he was for so many. I hope to be able to give back and work tirelessly for the community in which I live just as Dr. Pierce did every day.”
As the cost of higher education continues to increase, so does the need for student financial assistance in the forms of loans, grants and scholarships. Scholarship donations help students keep their borrowing to a minimum. While the College experiences great support from groups and individuals each year, the need remains for private support of the NIACC Foundation.