MASON CITY – Students at North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) who received scholarships this year had an opportunity to show their gratitude during the 12th annual NIACC Foundation Scholarship Recognition Luncheon held at the Muse Norris Conference Center on Monday, October 19, 2015.
“This is an important tradition that allows scholarship recipients the opportunity to personally thank the donors who make scholarships possible,” said Dr. Steve Schulz, NIACC President. “Each student has a unique story to tell and this year’s student speakers shared their own amazing stories.” It was also noted that 546 students received scholarships from NIACC last year totaling just over $1,160,000.
The recognition program featured comments from Nancy Currie Barnes, a scholarship donor from Mason City. Barnes shared, “My family’s commitment to the scholarship program goes back a few years. My father, Richard Currie helped transition the Curries Hardware store into a steel door and frame company. It was through Curries Company that our family first became involved in scholarships at NIACC in the early ‘70s.” Barnes continued, “Personally, my parents R.L. and Helen were firm believers of the importance of higher education. They thought what better way to share their love of higher education than to start a scholarship at NIACC! My parents were well aware of the advantages of having NIACC in our community. Why not support students in their goals of attending college? It helps us all in the long run.”
Several student scholarship recipients also spoke at NIACC’s scholarship recognition luncheon.
Landon Abele, a NIACC student from Lake Mills took classes through the NIACC Career Link program while a senior in high school. Making such a wise choice will allow Abele to graduate with a Building Trades Diploma and an Associate of Science Degree in Industrial Technology this May. Abele spoke with deep thankfulness as he addressed his donors, “I would like to personally thank Tom and Linda Schaefer for having a giving heart and changing students’ lives. Without you, I wouldn’t be here, living on campus, and getting my associate’s degree. And to those on the NIACC board, thank you for ensuring students get a quality education for an affordable price.”
According to Miranda Combs of Nashua, theoretically she should’ve graduated from NIACC by now. After graduating from high school Combs took some time off to save money and to decide what she was truly interested in doing. For Combs that was the best decision she could’ve made. Combs, a second year student at NIACC, pursuing an Associate Degree in Business Administration and Accounting stated, “I have the honor of receiving the NIACC Employee Scholarship. This scholarship is very beneficial to me, because it prevents me from having to work multiple jobs which in turn allows me to focus on my education.
Dustin Harms will graduate in May with an Associate Degree in Information Assurance and Security. Harms truly felt he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to attend college as a non-traditional student had it not been for the NIACC IT Scholarship that he received. Harms, from Mason City, feels privileged to have received the scholarship and believes that scholarships encourage students to do their best. Harms stated, “Thank you to all the donors, and thank you to the NIACC Foundation, for giving people like me a chance at a quality education. You cannot imagine how much of a burden it takes off me and my family to have your support.”
The chance of a lifetime almost passed by Cara Heiselman of Charles City. Heiselman told the crowd at the luncheon, “I was driving in my car and an ad came on the radio, I typically change the radio station when that occurs, however that day I didn’t. The ad was for the 2014 NIACC Extreme Makeover Scholarship. I went home and wrote that 250 word essay, counted all the words and punctuation over and over, emailed it in, and prayed!” To her surprise, Heiselman won the scholarship and that started it all for the non-traditional student. Heiselman received the Charles City Scholarship this year as a part-time student and will begin the licensed practical nursing program this summer. Heiselman shared, “I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. There is a reason I chose to stay home while my children were younger, a reason why I didn’t change the radio station, and a reason why I was the recipient of these scholarships.” She continued, “Without the donors, some of us would be working one, two, or possibly three jobs while trying to keep up with school work. Without the donors, some of us may not have financially been able to attend college at all. I want to personally thank all the donors who make it possible for students to achieve our dreams no matter what our age.”
As the cost of higher education continues to increase, so does the need for student financial assistance in the form 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.
For more information on how to help the College help deserving students, please contact the NIACC Foundation at 641-422-4386.