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BGSU Firelands recognizes scholarship recipients, donors

• Nov 8, 2018 at 6:00 PM

HURON — Bowling Green State University Firelands College recently honored some of its best and brightest during the 19th annual scholarship breakfast.

Held in the Cedar Point Center on the BGSU Firelands campus, the event brings together the scholarship recipients and the donors who fund the scholarships.

“The scholarship breakfast is one of our most important events,” said Andy Kurtz, BGSU Firelands dean. “By bringing together donors and scholarship recipients, we celebrate the generosity of our alumni and community members as well as the perseverance of Firelands students, many of whom would not be earning their college degree were it not for the scholarships they receive.

“Our donors have the opportunity to see first-hand how their generosity impacts real lives, real families, and real careers. Equally important, students have the chance to meet with their benefactors and thank them for helping to fulfill their dream of earning a college degree.”

One hundred and eighty guests, including 40 donors and 140 students with their families, were honored in remarks by Kurtz, President Rodney Rogers, student Claudia Gonzalez and donor Rhonda Watt.

“As Mexican immigrants, my parents have always instilled in my four brothers and me, the idea that through hard work and perseverance, anything can be accomplished,” Gonzalez said. “Hence, my parents are very proud of the fact that my older brother is an alumnus of Bowling Green State University, and I am presently attending BGSU Firelands seeking the same goal. I am blessed to be part of the first generation in my family to attend college; this opportunity was made possible because of your [donor] generosity and the sacrifices of my parents.”

Gonzalez first joined BGSU Firelands in 2012 as a College Credit Plus student from Sandusky High School. She is now a college senior who will graduate in the spring of 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Inclusive Early Childhood Education.

This year through the generosity of donors, BGSU Firelands awarded scholarships totaling nearly $240,000 to deserving students. For some students, financial need is the only thing that stands between them and their dreams of a college education.

“I was able to go to graduate school at BGSU because I was offered free tuition in exchange for being a teaching assistant to professors in the psychology department,” BGSU alumna Rhonda Watt told the audience. “Because I got free tuition, I want help fund others’ educations.”

An active volunteer in the community, retired social worker, counselor and court mediator who was part of a coalition that worked with school personnel in South Africa after Apartheid, Watt knows first-hand the importance of giving back.

“Scholarships help to mitigate a student's debt and decrease some financial stress, so attaining a scholarship surely has financial benefits, but it is also recognition, and helps propel the recipient to her or his potential,” added Watt, who serves as a trustee on the Wightman-Wieber Charitable Foundation and has been generously funding scholarships since 2008.

Scholarship awards are based on a variety of criteria, such as merit, demonstrated financial need, field of study, or participation in a specific program, organization or activities.

“My desire is to make an impact on future generations in our community and abroad. Words cannot express how thankful I am for the donors who enabled me to continue my education, and being one step closer to fulfilling my goals,” Gonzalez said.

BGSU Firelands is a regional campus and one of eight colleges of Bowling Green State University. At less than half the cost of other colleges and universities, BGSU Firelands puts higher education within reach. About 70 percent of incoming freshmen receive grants or scholarships. Ninety-seven percent of graduates report being employed, in graduate school or starting a business within six months of graduation.

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