Beloved teacher endows grant that will continue though 2047

By Cindy Pantoja, Staff Writer

The Contra Costa College Foundation received an $835,000 donation from the estate of a former educator and Richmond resident to fund 12 annual $2,500 scholarships through 2047.

The Packard-Zell Memorial Scholarship, named after Geraldine M. Packard who passed away on Aug. 5, 2017, will serve students in need of educational assistance.

Packard, a beloved teacher and librarian, served the communities of Cupertino and Alameda for more than 20 years.

Her generosity will benefit students who haven’t found success during previous attempts at college who decide to register at CCC with hopes to graduate.

“This is a brand-new opportunity that will be offered for the first time this scholarship cycle,” Scholarship Program Specialist Mia Henderson-Bonilla said.

This scholarship is a financial resource that will be available for the next 28 years through the college Foundation.

Students interested in applying for this scholarship should follow the regular scholarship application process.

Currently, the Foundation offers 70 different scholarships to students.

“Everybody should apply,” Foundation Development Officer Sara Marcellino said. “Last year we gave out $152,000 in scholarships. This is money sitting there (to help) students.”

The scholarship application process begins Nov. 1 and closes in mid-February.

Students have to fill out one online application and the system will match them with the right scholarship(s).

Henderson-Bonilla said it takes about two hours to fill out the online application and progress can be saved for completion later if necessary.

Students will need to provide their InSite username and password, two letters of recommendation, unofficial transcripts and answer six short-essay questions.

Henderson-Bonilla said the most important part of the scholarship application process is the two professional references. These letters will give the scholarship selection committees the opportunity to hear about the applicant’s accomplishments.

Scholarships are funds provided by donors to help students pay for higher education. This is money that doesn’t have to be paid back. Instead, it is a limited resource that is usually awarded on a competitive criteria basis.

“I have never applied for a scholarship because I thought they were like loans that you have to pay back once you graduate,” undecided major Karla Bolaines said.

After the review process, recipients are announced in mid-April and the scholarships are presented at a ceremony at the Knox Center in early May.

Marcellino said that even though they make a big effort to get the word out about the money available through scholarships, every year some of the money goes unclaimed.

“Students don’t want to put in the work it takes to fill out the application,” she said. “Also, there is a mix of cultural beliefs that there is no such thing as free money.”

CCC offers various ways to help students complete the scholarship application. The Financial Aid Office offers assistance during the limited lab hours at Fireside Hall during the open application period.

The Library staff offers scholarship application assistance through the Learning Resource Center Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-1:45 p.m.

Tutoring is also available online through the Canvas learning platform to students registered in English 875N, which is a free course.

“I really want to apply for a scholarship, but I will need some help answering the essay questions,” ESL student Amalia Ochoa said.