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Superhero campaign is up, up and away

Story by James Hill, photos by Vern Uyetake.

Superheroes come in many shapes and sizes. At PCC, a superhero could be a retired faculty in health education or a go-getting biology instructor. Superheroes could be future radiology technicians or photojournalists. Whatever their backgrounds and interests, PCC has lots of superheroes.

Who are these unmasked men and women? They’re everyday people like faculty, staff and students, who are doing extraordinary things. They include staff and faculty who are donating to the PCC Foundation, or students who receive scholarships from the PCC Foundation as they work toward their dream.

Annette Smith, student

Annette Smith, student

Annette Smith is one of those superheroes. The Cascade Campus student is working on her transfer degree and wants to attend Portland State University. Her goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree in social science and obtain a master’s degree in education so she can become a high school social studies teacher. Eventually, she wants to get her doctorate degree.

To get there, Smith earned the Florence Anderson Scholarship this year. She works full-time as a law firm clerk and goes to college full-time while maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average.

“I am confident and positive that this award is an investment towards a future that will make an impact for many years to come,” Smith said. “It is difficult to describe in words how incredibly grateful I am to those who give and to those who work exceedingly hard for this foundation.”

One of four children, Smith knew the importance of getting a college education. Her parents never finished college and she saw how it hindered them.

“When I turned 15 I went to work at a daycare to help alleviate financial burdens,” Smith added. “I have been working ever since. Almost seven years after I finished high school I was able to go back to school. Even when times get tough and stressful I remind myself that, one day, I am going to be a high school social studies teacher. Teaching is incredibly important to me, and I would hate to see this dream die because of the lack of finances.”

Pelinkas know what a difference giving can make

Hal Hickman

Fran and David Pelinka

For people like Annette Smith to succeed, there are people like the Pelinkas. David Pelinka, system analyst for Technology Solutions Services, and Fran Pelinka, retired instructional support technician in the Electronic Engineering Technology program. Fran can relate to students like Annette. Fran was a PCC student who didn’t have financial help. She was laid off from her previous job and decided to return to school. Since she owned a house, she couldn’t qualify for financial aid, just a small student loan.

“I wanted to be sure other students had a chance to have an educational opportunity even if they couldn’t afford it,” she said.

Fran’s own experiences prompted her to want to help current students, especially those in the Electronic Engineering Technology program, where she had gone to work for PCC. She discovered that the students did not have as many scholarships to apply for and thought it would be great to have one specific to EET students. So, the Fran and David Pelinka Scholarship was born and now provides a financial incentive for EET students.

“It gives you a wonderful feeling to see all those students getting scholarships,” she said. “To have students come up and say that a scholarship has really helped them to make it through the year. It’s really cool that, with $1,000, you can award a scholarship and help direct it to where you’d like it to go, and that other people can contribute to this effort as well.”

David Pelinka was excited about the opportunity after working with a student in EET who was from Vietnam. The student had come to the U.S. and wanted a career in computers. To David, the student’s story and ambition to make it in a new country was inspiring.

“Since I’ve been working here and have met students from all over the world who are seeking education and a new life, I just wanted to be able to help those who want to gain new skills,” he said. “It’s good to know that we’ve added another scholarship opportunity for a student.”

Giving GoalDouble Your 2009 Scholarship Gift

This year we have an incredible matching gift opportunity. The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation will match up to $320,000 for every scholarship dollar raised over and above the amount raised last year by the PCC Foundation. This would provide over $1 million for scholarships and the opportunity to increase access for many more PCC students. Make a gift to scholarships by March 31, 2009 and your generosity will be doubled.

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