Bria-Marie Tennyson dreamed of being the first in her family to go to college. She was thrilled when she discovered that Sacramento City College was more affordable than a 4-year university and would give her a top-notch education. Her plans for the future were set. But, life has a way of derailing even the best-laid plans.
When Bria-Marie’s grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, she had to help care for her and support the family. She could no longer afford classes, so she dropped out. As time passed, Bria-Marie forgot about her educational dreams, but she never forgot Sacramento City College.
“I’d seen myself as a caregiver for ten years. I thought, ‘I’ll just take a class or two.’” Bria-Marie wanted to return to school, but her confidence was low, and she couldn’t afford much. That might have been the end of her story, but thankfully, Sacramento City College’s dedicated faculty and staff met her with individual care and support.
“I saw opportunities that were available to me, so I grabbed every one. I got involved in student leadership and I started visiting my professors during their office hours. They’ve become my mentors. I call them my campus parents.”
Bria-Marie got involved with the Student Success and Support Program, which provides one-on-one success coaching to help students stay on track. Doing so kept Bria-Marie connected to her professors, who saw just how much potential she had. This support was just what she needed to soar – and soar she did.
Now, Bria-Marie is majoring in history and minoring in education at UC Berkeley. She plans to become a history professor to empower a new generation of students the way her professors at Sacramento City College empowered her. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today without those professors. I only hope I can do that for someone else someday.”
Brittany Tipton didn’t believe she was cut out for college. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to go to college, I didn’t think I would be able to get through college, so I joined the Marine Corps, ended up blowing out my knee and came home. [The Marine Corps] changed the way I thought about the world, the way I thought about myself as a person.”
After Brittany returned home, she decided to enroll in American River College, in large part because of the large veteran population. She credits much of her success so far at ARC to Mike Robinson and the Veterans Resource Center. “Mike Robinson is a huge support at ARC. I wouldn’t still be in school without him. [The] Veterans Resource Center helps students all the way through. Not many colleges have that.”
Despite the support she received from the Veterans Resource Center, Brittany unexpectedly found herself homeless and faced with the choice of paying bills or buying food. She applied for a grant from the Veteran Student Emergency Fund and was awarded $450 to help her buy food and move into safe housing. It allowed her to stop stressing and be able to focus on school.
“I encourage anyone who needs it to apply. Without that boost, I wouldn’t have been able to stay in school full-time and work full-time,” says Brittany. “I can get through the day because I know I have somewhere safe to sleep at night.”
Brittany expects to finish her degrees in Paramedics and Fire Technology in a few years, and then hopes to get hired at a Fire Department. With a few years of experience under her belt, she then plans to take the investigators exam.
Navjot (Navi) Kaur is a math superstar who will generously tutor anyone who thinks they can’t be one too. That’s Navi in a nutshell, but that fails to include her immigrant upbringing where English had to be learned, her amazing work ethic that netted her a 4.0 GPA, or her incredible contribution to Folsom Lake College.
Despite her heavy class load and difficult course choices, Navi managed to serve as president of the FLC Math and Engineering Club, participated as a student representative on the hiring committee for the math, science, and engineering dean, was the director of finance for the FLC Clubs and Events Board, and was a student representative for the Folsom Lake College Technology Club.
Her instructors at FLC agree that Navi is indeed a singular sensation. Whip smart, humble, and helpful, she not only believes in herself, but also believes everyone has the potential to learn and do something great.
The first-generation college student’s parents think she’s special too. Although they live in India and did not complete high school, they have emotionally supported and encouraged Navi’s choices and are very proud (Navi’s sister also lives here and is studying computer science).
Now Navi is off to UC Davis to obtain her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with a concentration in communication controls and signal processing. “I’m becoming a leading woman in tech, my way," Navi shares. She still tutors at FLC. According to Navi, if she can be an electric engineering major and a research scholar because of her academic experience at FLC, then the other students there can reach their dreams, too.
Every day, our donors give generously of their resources, so that our students may better themselves and their world through education. Hear from donors about what Los Rios means to them and why they donate.
I believe in the crucial work that Los Rios is doing in our region. Each of the District’s four colleges provides exceptional academic programs and technical training, creating a stronger workforce and more informed public. Los Rios provides pathways to success for people from all walks of life, as demonstrated by alumni luminaries such as Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the California Supreme Court chief justice. The Los Rios Foundation’s Student Emergency Fund makes a profound difference in students’ lives; helping them to overcome unforeseen hardships, stay in school and pursue their dreams.
It allows me to give back to an organization that has made a huge impact in my life. When I was first beginning my career in architecture, many of my first projects came from the Los Rios Community College District. I give because it allows me the opportunity to make a difference in an organization that has given me so much, both personally and professionally. I've been lucky enough to watch first-hand the growth that has happened across the Los Rios Community College District over the last 20 years, and I want to help continue the trend of opening doors to more and more students.
I am an employee of Los Rios Community College District and donate through a payroll deduction. It’s an easy way to support a wonderful program.
Cosumnes River College's Office of Philanthropy consists of a very caring and knowledgeable staff of two, the Director of Donor Relations, Michele Steiner and the College Relations Specialist, Liz Starbuck. These two ladies along with a very supportive group of CRC Alumni work long hours putting together fundraisers and searching for funding to support CRC students who may not be able to attend college without the Foundation’s Scholarships.
What could be a more deserving program?
I’m happy to give to the Cosumnes River College (CRC) Office of Philanthropy through payroll deduction because I see first hand, every day, how important it is for our students to have access to financial resources, and I like to feel like I’m contributing to that, in my own small way. I’ve also been lucky enough to be a faculty recipient, through faculty mini grants, where the CRC Office of Philanthropy has helped to support student projects that go beyond the scope of our regular classroom projects, like our SMUD solar race boats!
I know that giving to the Los Rios District will benefit the entire Sacramento region. An education can mean a better job, a more stable financial situation, or fulfillment of a dream to the many students served by our four colleges. Whenever and however I donate, I want to know that my time and resources are benefiting my neighbors, coworkers and peers in our communities. The Los Rios colleges make a difference for individuals and all of us who call the Sacramento region our home.
I came to Cosumnes River College with very little knowledge of community college and, frankly, didn't have the highest aspirations for CRC students. By the end of my first year here, all that had changed and I became a "believer." I regard CRC students as among the best and brightest college students anywhere and I truly believe each student can get "there" (in terms of aspirations) from here!
Working with STEM students in MESA, I read and hear stories of students in high-unit, rigorous majors who strive to balance a myriad of responsibilities that extend beyond academics to family and work. These students often share how they wish they had more time to study and they apply for scholarships hoping to find relief from their extremely busy lives. As you know, something as small as a $100 scholarship equates to that many more hours a student can devote to studying instead of working. In some cases, scholarship awards allow students to finish their degrees and/or transfer sooner, placing them that much closer to their academic and career goals.
Perhaps more importantly, the scholarship awards imply to students that the donors, the Los Rios Colleges Foundation, and the application review team members believe in them and are willing to invest in their future. My cousin recently purchased his dream car and was shocked that the sales person let him take the car for the weekend before making a purchase decision. When my cousin asked the sales rep why he let him take the car, he replied, "because I could see you owning it!"
I know the CRC Foundation can "see" the scholarship recipients achieving their goals and living their dreams. I give to the CRC Office of Philanthropy because I'm all about providing impactful opportunities to our students and I consider the CRC Foundation a strategic partner in this regard.