Generous Donations Advance Student Success

Dr. Karin Hilgersom, student Brett Bell, and Gretchen Sawyer on stage at the event.
Hannah Alfaro

A great celebration made a triumphant return on Friday, Sept. 30 as donors and recipients were honored at the 11th Annual Legacy Scholarship Dinner. This event marks a night of recognition for donor contributions that directly impact the lives and careers of students in the College. Recipients were also given the chance to personally meet and thank the scholarship donors that have helped them in such a tremendous way.

The night was hosted by the TMCC Foundation, which provides support for the College community by cultivating and developing relationships and raising funds for scholarships, programs, and capital improvements. This year alone, the Foundation awarded 598 scholarships to just over 500 students totaling $700,000 dollars. Additionally, once all awards are dispersed this academic year, the Foundation will have awarded nearly $1 million in scholarships.

During the event, paramedic student and Jacobs Presidential Scholar recipient Brett Bell had the chance to share his story and thank those that have supported him on his academic journey. Although he’s faced hardships, Bell is now the class president of this year’s paramedic student cohort, and is determined to help others going through similar journeys.

Bell shared his story with the audience, explaining that his life has completely changed for the better since attending TMCC. Once living on the streets himself, he now has the opportunity as a paramedic student to care for others living in a similar situation. With empathy, he provides care to those in need, reflecting during the Legacy Dinner on how far he’s come in such a short amount of time.

“Anything, absolutely anything, is possible in our lifetime,” Bell said during his speech. “No matter what age we are, where we come from, or what we have been through, we can accomplish anything we put our minds and our hearts toward. With a little bit of work, a little bit of effort, and a positive attitude we can accomplish the world. I am living proof of that truth.”

Bell’s dedication to bettering himself and the world around him shows just how impactful receiving a scholarship can be on a student’s life. For many, it allows them to pursue their dreams without extra burdens and barriers in their way. For others, scholarships allow them the opportunity to attend College when they otherwise might not have been able to. This annual event gives donors and recipients the chance to celebrate these exciting prospects.

Gretchen Sawyer, Executive Director of the TMCC Foundation, was excited for the return of this event, saying, “The TMCC Foundation was delighted to hold the annual Legacy Scholarship Dinner after a two year hiatus due to COVID-19. We were honored to recognize students for their achievements and thank donors for their extreme generosity that allows many students to pursue their goals. It was wonderful to experience students and donors engaging once again!”

The Foundation, which was established in 1982, provides TMCC with an avenue to pursue private philanthropic support for its students and programs. They partner with the College to bridge the gap between available public funding and the College’s financial needs. This academic year builds on 32 years of work since the Foundation began awarding scholarships in 1990, awarding nearly $11 million dollars in total to deserving students.

Bell concluded his speech by extending his thanks and gratitude to all of the attendees. “To the faculty and staff, the donors, family and loved ones that support all of us students, thank you so much for making this day happen for all of us,” he said. “A lot of us probably wouldn’t be able to reach our educational goals if it weren’t for your selflessness and generosity. From the absolute bottom of my heart, thank you all so much!”

The event was made possible due to generous sponsors, including AT&T, Cashman Equipment, Robert E. Lewis, and Velocity Truck Centers. To learn more about the impact of scholarships on TMCC students, or for more information about establishing a scholarship, please contact the Foundation and Grants Office at 775-674-7648.