Educational scholarships help pave the way

By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS

Mesalands Community College student Ona Padilla said she wouldn’t be attending college — and racking up achievements like being part of Phi Theta Kappa, a member of the Honor Society and a mentor in the Blazing Trails program — if it weren’t for financial help, which includes one of Mesalands’ scholarships.

In addition to government assistance, Padilla is a recipient of the Bannister Memorial Scholarship, just one of the many available at the college.

“I was excited,” she said of receiving the scholarship. “It’s like winning an award. It has helped me, in addition to federal aid, afford the necessities of my educational demands such as books and fees.”

According to the Web site lunch-money.com, which lists Mesalands’ current annual tuition as $2,100 for New Mexico residents, 94 percent of the students receive some type of financial aid: 71 percent get federal grants, 49 percent use state or local grants and 49 percent receive some assistance from the school, including scholarships.

“You could go to school here for free,” said John Yearout, Mesalands director of public relations. “When I came here five years ago, there were hardly any scholarships available. Now there are scholarships all over and it grows every year.”

Mesalands Financial Aid Director Theresa Beres, who said now is the time to apply for scholarships, pointed out the rodeo scholarships, the Hispanic scholarship and the Father Hammond scholarship, available through the Catholic church and established by a priest who believed in education, she said.

And who could forget the Mardi Gras Cajun Shrimp Boil, said Beres, who happens to be a native of Louisiana. “It’s one of the biggest fund-raisers of the year we have every spring,” she said, adding it is so authentic they simply line big tables with paper and pour out the shrimp. One of Tucumcari’s biggest social events, Beres said monies raised by the gala affair support more scholarships.

She also mentioned a host of rural co-op scholarships for farming and ranching students, scholarships offered from companies and organizations such as Altrusa and, of course, the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship.

“The lottery won’t pay until a student establishes themselves as a college student in their first year,” Beres said. “We have a scholarship to help bridge the gap right after high school.” Not surprisingly, Beres said the name of that program is the Bridge to Success.

Padilla said her own success would not be as eminent if it weren’t for the opportunities offered through the school.

“I learned how to be a person,” she said. “College teaches you how to critically think, how to engage in inner reflection. It has expanded my knowledge base and perception of life and goal achievement. Nothing should hold a person from excelling except for themselves.”
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Contact info:

For info on college scholarships:

Mesalands Community College Office of Financial Aid
Main campus, building A, 911 S. 10th St.
Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
Phone: 461-4413 ext. 136
Web site: www.mesalands.edu

For info on government programs:

Web site: www.fafsa.ed.gov/ (Meslalands federal school code is 032063)
1-800-4FED-AID