Ceremony celebrates scholarships

By Luis Cortes , Advocate Staff

Friends, families, professors and donors gathered at Contra Costa College to honor scholarship award winners for the 60th Annual Scholarship Awards Ceremony May 1 in the Knox Center.

The event began with a reception for donors, scholarship winners and their families from 5:30 – 6:15 p.m. and allowed time for them to socialize and enjoy the food provided by the culinary arts department.

The official ceremony began at 6:30 p.m.

CCC President Katrina VanderWoude said 82 students received more than 80 different scholarships, totaling $185,000.

African American studies major Elisha Patterson was one of two students chosen to give a special presentation. Patterson gave a powerful speech that touched on her struggles and hardships while outlining her plans once she transfers to Cal State-Sacramento and what she plans to do after completing her higher educational goals. Patterson plans to open her own non-profit early learning center.

Patterson was awarded four scholarships, the Associated Student Union Achievement Scholarship of $500, the Dean Lesher Scholarship of $1,000, the Dr. Intisar Shareef Scholarship of $500 and the Kennedy-King Scholarship of $10,000.

Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board Secretary John Marquez has been attending the Scholarship Awards Ceremony for years and said it has changed a bit from its inception.

“Back in the day, a handful of students would get their scholarships, move to the next level and we would never hear from them again,” Marquez said.

Marquez said it feels good to see former students and scholarship award winners come back and support their colleagues. He applauded Patterson and Jonathon Torres, the student speakers, for their stories, accomplishments and promising future.

Marquez said it’s encouraging to see that students want to change their communities and seeing them give back.
“It’s important to hear the stories,” he said.

Patterson plans to use her scholarship money to finance tuition, books and anything needed when she transfers. She stressed the importance of celebrating scholarship winners because it shows off the hard work students have done.

“It’s important to celebrate students who win scholarships because people had to put in work to get scholarships. Students had to work to get those scholarships,” she said.

Art major Vivien Lee was awarded two scholarships: The Parchester Village Scholarship of $500 and the Mack and Gaye Williams Scholarship of $1,000.
“It means a lot,” Lee said.

Vivien Lee was proud that she won multiple scholarships and was even surprised that she won the Mack and Gaye Williams scholarship. McKinley Williams is a former president of the college.
“The Parchester Village Scholarship means a lot to me personally because my family has been living there since the 1950s,” Lee said.

Lee believes CCC made the process of finding scholarships easy. She plans to use the funding to help with expenses when she transfers to UC Berkeley next year.

Jovan Kitchen is a sociology major who was awarded the Kennedy-King Scholarship of $10,000. Kitchen will be transferring to Howard University in the fall.
“It’s a blessing,” Kitchen said.

Kitchen said getting the Kennedy-King Scholarship was a big moment and meant a lot to him because of what he’s gone through in life.

“This is big. It means a lot. Going through what I’ve been through, I’m happy,” Kitchen said.

Kitchen, Patterson and Lee each advocated applying for scholarships stating the importance of receiving money, sharing their stories and reaping the financial benefits.

Kitchen said any type of scholarship, big or small, is beneficial and fear shouldn’t stop someone from applying.