A glorious college career all started when Angela-Marie Loo received a brochure for Portland Community College’s Adult Basic Education program. She was already a success working as a respected manager at a local business but felt her math skills needed updating.
"When I see fractions, I’m like ‘oh-no,’" said Loo. "I needed to brush up on my math skills and thought ABE would be a great way to do it. So I signed up to hang out at the ABE office and worked on math problems for two terms. I eventually enrolled for credit classes. I didn’t feel I could take a placement test without brushing up on the math. When I did enroll, and passed the test, I thought, ‘Wow I can do it.’"
Being a first generation college student, Loo qualified to take part in the Sylvania Roots program, which helps first-generation students with critical student support services.
"It’s funny, as successful as I was in my professional life, college seemed very different and scary," Loo said. "I felt I needed support and that’s what ROOTS did for me. It was all very amazing to me. So I tell as many people about it as I can."
The Beaverton resident is one of 400 students nationwide who received the scholarship through Coca-Cola. She’ll use the funds to complete her associate’s of science degree. She is currently co-admitted at Portland State University thanks to PCC’s dual enrollment agreement with PSU, a school where she’ll complete her pre-pharmacy requirements. Eventually, she’d like to apply to Oregon State or Pacific University’s School of Pharmacy.
"This year I set a goal for myself to apply for scholarships," said Loo, a member of Phi Theta Kappa. "Then this opportunity came to me through a PTK email at the last minute. I had to crank out my essay and the paperwork. At least, I gave it a shot, and didn’t think I’d get it. It was so great because when I heard about the scholarship I happened to have my teen-age sister along with me. It showed her that college and applying for scholarships does work."
The Coca-Cola Two-Year Scholarship Program gives support and encouragement to an under-served population of students. Often, the recipients are students who juggle school, work and family and continue to give back to their communities by volunteering.
"For me, I didn’t really have a base reference for college," Loo said. "I found PCC always very reasonable. The accessibility has been amazing and there are locations close to home, which is very convenient. I haven’t met one person at PCC who hasn’t gone out of their way to help me."
That is true at home for her, too.
"I want to thank my husband," she added. "I couldn’t do it without him. He makes me dinner, packs my lunches, and tolerates long absences. If you told me I’d be without him or the Sylvania ROOTS program? Forget it."