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Montgomery College Student Success Stories

Investing in the Future
Insights, Spring ’03

Patricia LopezPatricia Lopez knows first hand what a life changing experience it is to receive a scholarship
to attend Montgomery College. As a high school senior who had recently immigrated from El Salvador with her family in 1988, Lopez understood the value of higher education to her future success, but her family could not afford to pay for her college education. She was preparing to defer her academic plans when a guidance counselor at Winston Churchill High School selected her for a Montgomery College Board of Trustees Scholarship.

Now, nearly a decade later, Lopez is administering all scholarship programs offered by the College, including the Board of Trustees Scholarship that made it possible for her to become the first member of her family to graduate from college.

“I probably wouldn’t be where I am today if I had not been given that scholarship,” says Lopez matter- of-factly, adding that she is currently working on a Master of Business Arts at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. The tuition for Montgomery College is relatively modest—$3,354 for tuition and other fees for 15 credit hours for two academic terms.

Providing higher education opportunities for students who cannot afford higher education is a priority. Nonetheless, more than 8,000 of Montgomery College’s students receive financial aid. More than $1 million in scholarships, both academic and needs based, are granted to students annually from a plethora of public and private sources. Despite this impressive figure, the economic need of the College’s student population still outstripps the resources available. “Montgomery College is affordable, but we are not free,” Lopez notes. This need, in part, was the reason that friends and benefactors of the College in the early 1980s established a non-profit educational foundation to provide, among other financial resources, scholarships to deserving students. More than $300,000 in Foundation scholarships has been awarded to 330 students in the 2002–03 academic year. The Foundation scholarship program is one of Lopez’s primary responsibilities, and applications are pouring in for the upcoming academic year.

“I feel like my telephone number has been posted in a public square,” jokes Lopez, adding that the most difficult part of her job is turning down applicants due to the lack of available funds. Only one-third of all qualified applicants were awarded Foundation scholarships this year.

“The most gratifying part of my job,” Lopez says, “is helping someone who otherwise might not have the opportunity. Montgomery College really is making a difference in their lives.”