Who: Amanda, our Director of Marketing and Program Initiatives, sat down with Ann Siciliano, Director of Program Services.
The Community Foundation is in scholarship season which means eligible students are applying for school funding. Preparing for college is scary enough, but we want student applicants to know that our staff is here for them. We want to give students the support they need to pursue their education. Learn more about our scholarships and read what Ann has to say below!
Amanda: What kind of impacts have you seen over the years with the program?
Ann: I guess the impacts I’ve seen are many times for not just first generation students but for a lot of students that without the opportunity to have the scholarship money for them they would not have been able to finish school. They have written us and told us that. They have come by to visit. I have seen them out and about in the community. Many of the ones I run into relay that the impact it had and the burden that it lifted from them to be able to study and not work as much while they went to school. And it really kept them in school.
Amanda: Do you have a favorite memory of your time doing scholarships?
Ann: I think there is one student that comes to mind. He was one of our Early Ace scholarship recipients in the early years of that fund. There is a GPA requirement for that scholarship. It is a renewable scholarship but you need to keep a 3.0 GPA. If you don’t, you get one semester of grace before you are not renewed. So this student had had his semester of grace. He floundered a bit his freshman year. Sophomore year, he didn’t apply himself as well and he floundered again. So the scholarship was not renewed for the rest of that year. It was devastating to the student because he did have financial need and he was desperate to continue. It was expected in his family that he would get his degree. They were supportive but he needed the money. We didn’t award it that year and it was a hard thing to do. But he got tutoring help, got the support that he needed to be successful. He worked with his advisors more, worked with his professors more, and turned his GPA around the next semester and it was stellar. It was stellar from then on until he graduated. So of course his scholarship was renewed. He came in and thanked us because it was the kick in the pants that he needed. He is now applying to PA school and has been so successful. I have seen him out in the community and he is just so appreciative of the opportunity that we gave him and that we also helped him get on the right foot and do what he needed to do to be successful. So that is one of my favorite memories.
Amanda: What kind of things do you look for in the application when you receive them?
Ann: Many of them are requiring demonstrated financial need. So an award notification from the school that truly these students need the financial assistance because they qualify for federal or state or institutional money. So there is a need there. We look for that for many of them. A lot of them it is academic performance. What is their GPA? Some of them it is a community involvement. How many activities have they been involved in or what sorts of activities? Leadership roles within those activities are important to many scholarship donors. They want to see a tendency or an aptitude for leadership. For others it is a particular area of study. Are they going to study agriculture? Are they studying horticulture? Do they want to study math or business or STEM majors? It is a particular major or field of study that the donors are looking for, for that particular scholarship. For others, for one in particular, it is strictly merit-based. How strong is the academic profile for the student and are they going to pursue a particular major, which in that case is education. They want the strongest student. They don’t care if they need financial assistance or not, they are rewarding the accomplishments of that particular student who is going to pursue an education major. So it really varies depending on the scholarship.
Amanda: Last question, do you have any advice for the student applicants this year?
Ann: Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your application. Be sure to ask the people who need to submit letters of reference for your transcript for you. Give them plenty of time to do that. Take a lot of time to think about what is interesting about you or different about you as you answer your questions. It makes you unique so that the committee can see that as they read applications. Pay attention to detail because the committees notice.