Many students can’t afford college, but every student deserves a chance. For
more than 50 years, Kalamazoo Valley Community College has been providing
life-changing experiences for students and their families. “Although the college offers one of the lowest tuition rates in the state, many of our students can’t afford to attend college without assistance,” said Director of Development for Kalamazoo Valley Community College Stephen Doherty.
He explained that during the 2016-17 school year, the college processed more than 14,000 requests for financial aid. Of these requests, only 41 percent or 5,775 students received some form of financial aid. “The number of financial aid applications continues to increase each year and the Foundation’s scholarship funds help meet student needs,” Doherty said. “Investments go further here. An investment in the life of a student pays long lasting dividends. For $315, you can invest in one three-contact hour class for a student. For $2,090, you can invest in one semester for a student. For $4,180 you can invest in a student for one year.”
Kalamazoo Valley students often say that the college’s faculty members deliver high quality instruction at affordable rates. Loy Norrix High School graduate Nicholas Martin was the first person in his family to go to college and is now working on his Ph.D. at the University of Florida. He’s researching the chemical ecology of the Florida Hairstreak, Eumaeus atala, an endangered butterfly that’s native to Florida. He credits his experience at Kalamazoo Valley with helping him achieve educational success. “Initially, I lacked direction, resources, and at times felt lost,” he recalled. “Fortunately, I found my path at Kalamazoo Valley with the help of some truly amazing instructors.”
Martin transferred to Western Michigan University after attending Kalamazoo Valley, earning a master’s degree. “Without the opportunities and instruction available at Kalamazoo Valley, I do not think that I would have made it to this point in my career,” he said. “I am deeply indebted to the faculty there, and the institution as a whole. Kalamazoo Valley allowed me to make a difference in my life.”
Dental hygienist Melody Sjoren loves her work at Paw Paw Family Dentistry. She shopped around for a dental school before choosing Kalamazoo Valley. “The school definitely prepared me for my career and working in the dental field,” she said. “The instructors were excellent and I liked the small class size.” She took prerequisite courses at Valley before enrolling in the college’s dental hygiene program.
Sjoren considers herself an educator who helps her patients understand how to take good care of themselves. “I love my patients and my co-workers,” she said. “I really enjoy having the opportunity to serve the community by getting to know my patients and helping them improve their dental health. I’m a huge advocate of prevention and instilling confidence.”
Amy O’Donnell Lueth, design director at the Kalamazoo-based custom software company Maestro, said she too, found her passion at Valley. “I attended Kalamazoo Valley because I didn’t know which direction I wanted to head in as far as a career,” she said. “Nursing, teaching art, and medical-related fields were all options I considered when I first started. I took a few art classes alongside general education requirements and realized my love for art then. Still not sure what to do with this passion, I gave graphic design a shot. I had never touched the design software and didn’t have a computer,” O’Donnell Lueth said. “Because of the Center for New Media - the computer lab, the classes, the professors and building relationships with everyone there, I fell in love with design and had everything I needed to grow and excel as a designer. My teachers became my mentors and my classmates became my friends because of the programs and smaller class sizes. I earned three associate degrees - graphic design, web design and illustration. I think I earned those because I enjoyed my internship there at the school, assisting with art galleries and student competitions. Kalamazoo Valley helped me prepare for the work I’m doing today by teaching me so much from the start, giving me real world opportunities and building a community within the CNM.”
Doherty said he loves hearing and sharing the stories of students who’ve moved on to successful careers after graduating from Valley. “Nothing is more rewarding than helping the young people of our community discover and develop their talents,” Doherty said.
The Kalamazoo Valley Community College Foundation, an independent 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, is one way the college works to assist students with financial needs. The Foundation was established in 1980 to accept and administer unrestricted contributions and those designated for specific purposes, such as student scholarships, the purchase of equipment to improve instruction, and the construction of new facilities.
Although funds are always accepted, the Foundation’s annual fund drive is underway now. For more information or to contribute to the Foundation, go to www.kvcc.edu/foundation/support.htm.