Skagit Valley Champions of Diversity in November 2007
Opening the doors to college was an unrealistic dream for many high school students in Skagit, Island & San Juan counties. That is until caring college representatives created a celebration - Champions of Diversity - that now brings hope and thousands of scholarship dollars to young people who thought college was out of their reach! Since 1999, more than 400 high school students have been nominated by school counselors, teachers, and employers in recognition of their contributions to diversity. Each November, nominated 15- to 18-year-olds walk to the stage as over 300 family and friends in the audience hear how the young people have mentored and tutored other students; worked to provide income for their families; volunteered at local hospitals and senior centers; and provided leadership in school diversity clubs and local service clubs.
The excitement builds in the second half of the program – when admissions representatives from all six of Washington’s public universities and Skagit Valley College offer scholarships to eligible seniors. While recognizing diversity achievements, the underlying desire has been to encourage students to go to college. Most of these young people are the first in their family to go to college; in the early years of Champions of Diversity, grade-point-averages were not always high and some students did not meet core requirements. As the number and size of the scholarships has grown, however, high school students’ aspirations have risen – and so have their achievements! In 2007, over $77,000 of scholarships were awarded to 34 seniors. The next Champions of Diversity Awards Ceremony is already planned for November 13, 2008.
Washington State University has been a major contributor to Champions of Diversity for five years. The Coordinator of the WSU Learning Center – Skagit, Island & San Juan is on the planning committee and provides printing and marketing for the event. WSU’s Division of Student Affairs, Equity & Diversity offers four seniors a $1500 scholarship along with great WSU sports bags, hats & wool scarves. This prestigious introduction to WSU reaps huge rewards in the Skagit, Island & San Juan counties as students realize dreams of college are really within their grasp!