by June Portnoy
On Thursday, October 24th, Bucks County Community College (BCCC) hosted its Sixth Women’s Scholarship Tea.
Adrienne Clark, Coordinator, Development Programs of BCCC Foundation, welcomed a room filled with women at the college’s Tyler Hall.
“You are the generous donors that helped make our ‘Salute to Mothers’ Scholarship so successful,” said Adrienne. “In the past five years, we’ve awarded 60 scholarships, giving away $38,000 to very deserving women here on campus who are trying to raise a family, work and also get an education at the same time.
“Last year we awarded 10, $1,000 scholarships, and next fall of 2014 we will be awarding 16 scholarships, the largest number so far. As of today, we have already raised $11,000.”
Betty Tsai, sitting at a large table listening to Adrienne speak, is the founder of this annual scholarship award. Six years ago, Betty, a former BCCC professor, donated one $500 scholarship to a single mother who was seeking higher education at the college.
“I retired after working here for 37 years and wanted to give back to the college that had given me so much during my career,” explained Betty. “While working here, I met so many women who I knew would benefit from a scholarship like this one.”
For the first two years, in 2007 and 2008, the BCCC Foundation awarded a $500 scholarship to one recipient each year. Over the years, the number of people donating to this scholarship fund grew, and in 2011 the BCCC Foundation began awarding $1,000 scholarships.
“I planted the seed and it blossomed,” said Betty, refusing to take much credit for all the Foundation has accomplished over the years.
Jennifer Hall, a 2013 “Salute to Mothers” Scholarship recipient, attended this year’s Women’s Scholarship Tea. She is the mother of two young daughters, a nursing major with a minor in psychology and a work-study student at the college’s Upper Bucks Campus.
“Receiving a scholarship that honors me as a non-traditional student and a single mom is amazing,” said Jennifer. “It’s not easy balancing classes, working, volunteering and being involved in campus organizations and president of one of them, so it is a tremendous weight off my shoulders being blessed to receive this scholarship.
“Without these financial awards, I would not be able to afford college, as I have many responsibilities as a parent…I have now been given the motivation to do well in the future because my hard work is being acknowledged.”
Keynote Speaker Dr. Stephanie Shanblatt, BCCC President, shared a heartwarming story of her own mother’s challenge of raising her three young children after her husband unexpectedly passed away. With no college degree and having not worked in years, she had no confidence to go back into the workplace until she went to community college to learn some skills.
“But she didn’t just learn skills there,” explained Dr. Shanblatt. “She also learned self-confidence, hope, and she learned to trust herself again. The people at that college guided her on an important path.”
Dr. Shanblatt’s mother ultimately became a stockbroker and was able to earn enough money to take care of herself and her children.
“It was that community college experience that she (my mother) talked about often that made the difference in her life,” continued Dr. Shanblatt. “And so this scholarship matters to me on a very personal level.
“There are rare times in life when one really has an opportunity to deeply touch someone else’s life in a transformative way.
“Through this scholarship tea; for the scholarships we provide; through the support and encouragement we give to women; particularly women with children who are really trying to better themselves and their children’s lives, we have that rare opportunity to truly make a difference for others.”
To make a donation to BCCC’s “Salute to Mothers” Scholarship, and help change a woman’s life, call 215-968-8224 or email email@example.com.
PHOTO CAP: From left, Dr. Stephanie Shanblatt, BCCC President and Keynote Speaker; 10-year-old Aubrey Hill, who is standing beside her mother, Jennifer Hill, a 2013 “Salute to Mothers Scholarship” recipient.