AAUW Scholarships Awarded
Phoenix College students Valerie Ramirez and Jennifer Fish have been awarded scholarships by the Phoenix branch of the American Association of University Women. The recipients were selected for an award of $750 each based on achieving at least a 3.5 GPA, being a full-time degree student at Phoenix College and showing financial need.
“It is very encouraging for me to receive this award,” said Ramirez. “My kids said, ‘Mom, you can get the laptop you’ve needed.’ They are proud of me.”
Valerie Ramirez attended Phoenix College in 1992 on a presidential scholarship, graduating from North High School. She says she was studying to be a medical technician while working in a doctor’s office. After a year-and-a-half, she dropped out and got married. Now with three children ages 9, 12 and 14, she divorced and decided to get her degree, this time in elementary education.
“I was volunteering and then became an employee at my children’s charter school,” Ramirez said. “It was there I realized teaching and being with kids was my passion. It is hard juggling work, children and school, but I find myself very productive. And, I realized it is good for my kids. They ask me, ‘What did you learn in school today?’ We do our homework together.”
Ramirez added that she loves being on campus and meeting new people. She enjoys her classes and feels she understands more than when she was 18-years-old. For women thinking of returning to school, she has two words, “Do it!” In fact, she encouraged two friends who are now enrolled at Phoenix College.
Graduating from Washington High School in 2011, Jennifer Fish went to Flagstaff to study elementary education at Northern Arizona University. But after one semester, she returned to the Valley and enrolled at Phoenix College.
“I had fun at NAU,” she said, “but I missed my friends and was driving home every weekend for my family. I needed to be closer to home. PC is very homey. The professors are really nice and work one-on-one with you. It is more supportive than at a big university.”
Fish supports living on her own with a full-time job as an administrator at Desert Christian Early Care and Education Center plus she works three or four times a week caring for a 3-year-old who has a feeding tube and his three siblings. Fish loves working with children and says she enjoys a close relationship with the four kids.
While working at the education center, Fish decided to switch her major to social and behavioral science so she can help children one-on-one, beyond the classroom. When she graduates from Phoenix College, she will focus her studies on the individual and family at ASU.
“This award is a big blessing, especially since I’m will be going to ASU and I can already see there are a lot of fees,” she said.
In 2009, following its mantra of “Educate a woman; change the world,” members of the Phoenix Branch of the AAUW voted to offer a scholarship to local females attending Phoenix College. Over the next three years, the branch held garden party brunches, silent auctions, raffles, bridge marathons and handcraft sales, as well as received donations from members. A gift of $10,000 was given to Phoenix College in 2011, with the endowment created in 2012 at the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation.
In addition to creating the endowment, the branch awarded a $500 scholarship at PC in the spring of 2010 and 2011. In the summer of 2011, the board voted to begin awarding two $750 scholarships. The organization continues to hold events such as its recent Fifth Annual Garden Party and Brunch, raising nearly $1,700.
Student scholars Jennifer Fish (far right) and Valeria Ramierez (second from right) were able personally to thank members of the Phoenix AAUW at the Donor Wall Unveiling. From left to right: Barbara Presler, Marilyn Schiedat, Dot Fields, Dorothy Ward and Mary Palsma.