Northwest College awarded Daniels Fund grant

Posted 12/18/08

As she nears the completion of her associate degree, she is taking courses simultaneously from Northwest and the outreach school to reduce the amount of time she will need to complete her education.

Meanwhile, Steven Hiser of Lovell is beginning …

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Northwest College awarded Daniels Fund grant


Scholarships aid nontraditional studentsKatie Martinez of Powell is a single mother of three children, ages 1, 2 and 7, who earned her GED in 1996. Now, she is working toward an associate degree in sociology at Northwest College, and she plans to go on to get her bachelor's degree through the University of Wyoming Outreach School.

As she nears the completion of her associate degree, she is taking courses simultaneously from Northwest and the outreach school to reduce the amount of time she will need to complete her education.

Meanwhile, Steven Hiser of Lovell is beginning years of study he needs to become a nurse practitioner, while also planning for his second deployment to Iraq with the Wyoming Army National Guard.

Since that deployment will begin in April and will last a year, he knows his educational goals will take several years to achieve. He hopes to speed the process along as much as possible by taking online courses while he is on active duty.

Though they don't have much in common, Martinez and Hiser both are nontraditional students at Northwest College who received Daniels Opportunity Scholarships to help with the costs of getting their education.

The Daniels Fund recently provided $50,750 to Northwest College to continue its effort to help non-traditional students over the next two years.

Because fewer scholarships are available for non-traditional students, “our goal would be to get scholarship funding in the hands of students who really don't have any other way to go to school,” said Peter Dodge, spokesman for the Daniels Fund.

Dodge said the scholarship program focuses particularly on non-traditional students, including those who are 23 or older, have earned GEDs, are coming out of the juvenile justice system or were raised in foster care.

“Students who most desire a college education are often least able to afford one,” said Linda Childears, president and chief executive officer for the Daniels Fund.

Institutions are asked to select students for the scholarship who reflect the qualities identified by founder Bill Daniels: Strength of character, leadership potential, emotional maturity and stability and a willingness to give back to the community.

Daniels Opportunity Scholarships also are available at the University of Wyoming for students who qualified at community colleges and wish to earn bachelor's degrees, Dodge said.

Martinez said she tried unsuccessfully to further her education in 1997 when she was 18.

She decided to try again in 2004, “and I'm still here,” she said. “Sometimes I'm a full-time student; sometimes I go part time. I'm trying always to go full time.”

By getting her education, Martinez said she will be better able to provide for her children and spend more time with them.

“I didn't want to work three jobs to make ends meet,” she said. “I didn't want to be working all the time.”

Thanks in part to her $1,000 Daniels Opportunity Scholarship, she now is able to devote more time to her studies and to her children, she said.

With all the demands on Martinez's time, “the laundry doesn't get done, the dishes don't get done, but my children have a clean place to eat,” she said. “We might not have everything, but we have each other. At least this education will help.”

When she finishes her bachelor's degree, Martinez plans to work in adult education — basically, to help students like herself.

The Daniels Opportunity Scholarship fund also aims at returning military members like Hiser.

“They may have some financial resources available, but … that little bit of extra help can make the difference,” Dodge said.

Hiser said he joined the military after high school. He later served a two-year mission for his church.

Upon his return, Hiser began attending the University of Wyoming, working toward a physical education degree so he could become a PE teacher.

But he burned out after the first year, and took the next year and a half to think about what he wanted to do with his life.

“My experience in the military opened my eyes to a lot of things,” he said. “I could do something better, help people in a better way. I talked to myself and listed the pros and cons, and decided on a career in nursing.”

He began taking required general studies courses at Northwest College this fall. Because he knew he was facing a deployment, he decided to apply for nursing school when he returns in April 2010.

His Daniels Opportunity Scholarship paid for his books and increased the amount of time he can devote to study and to his asphalt-repair business, he said.

When he deploys in April, “I hope to have time to study in Iraq,” he said. “I'm taking my books so I don't have to worry about remembering when I come back. I may take Internet courses, too. I don't want to take any more time off than I have to.”

Beverly Bell, director of financial aid and scholarships at the college, said community colleges in the state historically joined with the University of Wyoming in submitting grant applications to the Daniels Fund, and Northwest generally was awarded $3,000 per year for scholarships.

But in 2006, Bell suggested writing a separate grant on behalf of the college, and that resulted in $30,000 for scholarships to help non-traditional students.