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Thursday, June 21, 2018

WCC Employees Find Numerous Ways to Help Students

  • Jakob Skogheim Humanities instructor Elisabeth Thoburn targets donations that she makes to the WCC Foundation.

WCC has so many students who have career dreams, but not the finances to necessarily support those dreams. That’s where the WCC Foundation comes in to help.

“We are fortunate to have so many faculty and staff who see firsthand some of the struggles our students have balancing home, work, and education and use the tools of the Foundation to make a difference,” said Krissa Rumsey, grant development and annual giving manager with the Foundation.

There are just about as many ways to support the students as there are supporters.

“What I liked was that the Foundation understood what I wanted to do and where I wanted my money to go,” said Marla Stuck, employment manager in Human Resources.

Stuck began her donations to the Foundation two years ago and directs her funds toward female students who need extra help. “My contribution goes to women doing the best they can who just need a little help,” Stuck said. “If I had been able to have help to pay for college it would have been so cool.”

Stuck chose to make her donations through payroll deduction because of the convenience. “I believe in what we do here,” she said. “No matter where you go in life they can’t take away your knowledge. Donating to our students is just the right thing to do.”

Humanities instructor Elisabeth Thoburn has been donating to the Foundation for years, but recently established a special fund that spoke to her two passions: travel and art.

“By contract I got a 3 percent salary increase, which was very nice but I thought that at a time where many of my students lost their jobs and had little or no resources, I could not simply accept this extra money,” Thoburn said. “I put that increase into the Foundation to benefit the students.”

Thoburn has directed the Foundation to use the money for student study abroad or to purchase art that will engage and enrich students’ on-campus experience. “I feel that says something about who I am and what my priorities are,” said Thoburn. The funds can be accessed through the faculty grant application process.

“I’ve traveled all my life and it has completely changed my outlook,” Thoburn said. “I’ve learned to throw my preconceived notions out the window and rethink the world. I want the students to explore the world for themselves and not just accept what they read in the newspaper as truth.”

From 2004 through 2006 the WCC photography faculty helped host a Photoshop conference called Soup2Nuts. The proceeds from the conference were placed in the Foundation, where they’ve been used for merit-based scholarships in the digital media arts department. When longtime and beloved graphic design faculty member Dennis Guastella retired last year, the department decided that converting the scholarship into an endowment in his name would be the best way to honor him. Some digital media arts instructors also contributed through payroll deduction to enlarge the fund so it could help as many students as possible.

“We wanted to find a way to pay tribute to Dennis’s 30 years of service,” said Jennifer Baker, photography instructor and department co-chair. “With this endowment the department has the opportunity to help our students achieve their educational goals.”

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