Sharing thanks may be more warranted than ever this giving season as we finish out a year challenged by the pandemic and uplifted with incredible support from the community. At Polk State College, this support has taken many forms, including generous donations to the Polk State College Foundation, partnerships with local municipalities to provide students with access to resources, and the hard work of faculty and staff to ensure the health, safety and success of the College community.
As we look ahead to the Spring 2021 Semester at Polk State, I encourage students to focus on their futures and persevere toward their career goals with the understanding that they are not in this alone. With the aforementioned support paired with robust financial aid opportunities, increased hybrid course options, quality instruction, and valuable services including advising, tutoring, and libraries available in a variety of modalities, Polk State is dedicated to ensuring the success of its students.
Faculty, staff and the community truly care about Polk State’s students and this has been evident through the COVID-19 public health emergency. Faculty worked diligently to move thousands of classes online during the onset of the pandemic to ensure students could complete courses and degrees, and staff innovated ways to support students in the remote environment. The College has allocated more than $2.4 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) emergency relief funds to more than 3,600 students and funds continue to be disbursed. Additionally, the Foundation established the Nipping Emergency Situations and Technology Shortfalls (NESTS) fund.
The Polk State Foundation awards approximately $1.3 million in scholarships to about 1,500 students each year. Polk State nursing student Clive Perry, who is on track to graduate in December, says continuing his education through the pandemic was made possible by a Foundation scholarship. Perry emigrated from Jamaica in 2014 with his mother who helps to pay for his college courses. She was working as a housekeeper when the public health emergency impacted the hospitality and travel industries, leaving Perry’s mother out of work. After sharing his story with Professor of Nursing Lynda Schaak and Foundation Accounting Specialist Sherryann Jones, the Foundation awarded Perry the Devon M. and Louise B. Hizer Trust Scholarship to help alleviate some of the financial burden of tuition so that he may focus on his future.
“Nursing school is stressful enough. Adding the worries of how to pay for my classes and how we were going to provide for our basic needs was really difficult,” Perry shared. “The scholarship from the Foundation really helped to ease my stress and allowed me to put more energy into doing well in my courses. I hope that one day I will be able to help students who are facing financial difficulties.”
We are not only preparing our students to become highly skilled professionals; we are also inspiring the next generation of philanthropists who will lead with community-servant hearts. I extend my sincerest appreciation to the Polk County community. Your continued support keeps high quality associate, baccalaureate and workforce certification programs in reach for residents of Polk County. The support of faculty, staff, donors, employers, mentors and more is instrumental to the College’s life-transforming work and to elevating the economic development of our region.
I am forever grateful. Thank you.
Angela Garcia Falconetti is president of Polk State College.