Transforming Lives, One Scholarship at a Time

Perspective

Patrick Hockenberry, manager of NCC’S scholarship programs,

Serving as the manager of scholarship programs at Northampton Community College has been the most fulfilling professional experience of my career — one that I have spent working in human-service focused non-profits and higher education. Every day, I am fortunate to see the life-changing results that come from scholarship support and the sheer gratitude with which students receive this generosity.

Our students’ stories are all unique, but most have a common thread. Despite their lack of financial resources, working part- and often full-time, raising families, volunteering in their communities, overcoming disabilities and dealing with the stresses of life, NCC students are resolute in their pursuit of education.

They stretch to take one more class that will get them to their goal – even though money and time are in short supply. They invest in themselves, their families and our communities with the hope and expectation that things will be better, and they have chosen education and NCC to help them on their path.

When friends, faculty, staff, businesses, board members and others support scholarships for NCC students, we want them to experience the overwhelming gratitude that our students show for this support. Often, through tears and grateful, relief-filled smiles, students ask, “How could this happen? Who made this possible?” That is when the true gravity of the gifts donors make to NCC is revealed.

One student who stands out in my mind found a way to pay for her tuition and fees, but could not afford her books, which can cost over $500 for some academic programs. Resigned to taking a semester off so that she could work more hours to save for future semesters, her academic advisor encouraged her to submit an application for an NCC Foundation scholarship.

She was eligible for a scholarship, and after it was awarded, she stopped by my office. She had to know who made her scholarship possible so that she could properly thank them.

With the excitement of someone who had just received some of the best news of her life, she shared how much the scholarship meant to her and her loved ones. Her family was struggling with a serious illness and the financial hardships that came with it. Education was her way to a better career to help get her family back on their feet. The words she used epitomize the transformation that our donors make possible.

“They (her scholarship donors) need to understand,” she said, “this changes everything.” Those are the moments when it is clear that acts of generosity and kindness, though sometimes small, will transform lives. I am proud of our students and proud to be part of the NCC community.

[Published in the Fall 2019 Northampton Community College Magazine.]