Awards, scholarships and grant funding were announced at the 16th annual Become Exceptional luncheon put on by the Bellevue College Foundation on Tuesday, April 17.
Among the many announcements made at the luncheon was an increase in scholarship money available to students. In 2014, the Bellevue College Foundation directly awarded 92 scholarships with awards totaling over $172,000 – a 24 percent increase in funding from 2013 – and on Tuesday the foundation announced that it would be offering 54 scholarships totaling over $270,000 for the coming year.
Also announced at the luncheon were the winners of the 2015 Margin of Excellence Awards, a $1,500 award given to faculty and staff members who demonstrate a commitment to excellence through their contributions to the campus and the community. This year’s winners were Jennifer Connor of Technology and Support Services, Chelsie Hanks of the Health Sciences Education and Wellness Institute, Keith Rowley of the Business Technology department and Nancy McEachran of the ESL Developmental Education department.
The luncheon also took the opportunity to highlight other services offered by the Bellevue College Foundation. Among these were the Lockwood Foundation Grant, which funds faculty member projects that promote innovation in teaching or entrepreneurial models at the college.
The BC Foundation Mini-Grants were also discussed at the luncheon. They provide basic funding to BC faculty, staff and administrators’ projects that may not be eligible for support through other college funding sources.
The two faculty speakers at the luncheon were presented as testaments to the power of the grants offered by the Bellevue College Foundation. The first, Dr. Tim Jones of the Political Science, International Studies, and Interdisciplinary Studies departments, spoke about a program he has worked on with the University of Washington to take students on “Civil Rights Pilgrimages,” which takes students from Bellevue College to visit civil rights leaders and historic sites throughout the Deep South.
The other, Sara Gardner, spoke about the Autism Spectrum Navigators program that she developed for the college after the success of Bellevue College Foundation’s funded pilot program in 2010.
ASN has helped increase the retention rate, GPA and class completion rates of the students involved.
Finally, the Bellevue College Foundation used the luncheon to highlight the growth of the college as it approaches its 50th anniversary. In the winter quarter of 1966, Bellevue Community College’s first year, only 464 students were enrolled. By the winter quarter of 2016, Bellevue College’s enrollment is expected to be over 33,000, making it the third-largest higher-educational institution in the state.
The event was emceed by Mack Strong, a former Seattle Seahawk and founder of the Mack Strong TEAM-WORKS Foundation, a nonprofit providing mentoring programs to help over 350 Northwest urban youth from at-risk communities develop the minds, bodies and characters needed to succeed.
Last year’s event raised over $800,000 for the Bellevue College Foundation, and the foundation is hopeful that Tuesday’s event will turn out to be similarly successful once they know the full amount raised. Even if it isn’t, Foundation Director and Bellevue College graduate Joshua Schaer was just grateful for the opportunity to learn about the “exciting things” that are going on at Bellevue College.
“Every year, we have such inspiring stories, truly inspirational stories. And that is why I am involved in the foundation – to be able to give back to the school, to hear the stories,” Schaer said after the event.