In May the Club awarded a number of scholarships.  A number of Rotarians have shown interest in reading the remarks made by Phoenix Scholar Elizabeth Douglass on May 18.   By clicking READ MORE you will be directed to her comments.  
 
Elizabeth Douglass
May 18, 2015
Columbus Rotary – Phoenix Scholarship
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In the pursuit of a brighter future through higher education, non traditional students find themselves in a somewhat unique position. With life experience, we realize the importance of education, we know how we learn best, we are willing to put in whatever work is necessary, and our grades often reflect that. Time and time again, I am told by my instructors that it is the non traditional student who excels the most in their classroom. But in spite of that, finding sources of funding is quite challenging for us. We simply cannot compete against the traditional student who can assume the campus leadership activities coveted by so many scholarship committees, while still maintaining high academic standards along with our extensive commitments at home, whether they be caring for young children, teenagers, or parents.
  
This is what makes the Phoenix Scholarship so very special. There truly is nothing like it anywhere. No where else is there any consideration at all for the personal responsibilities that come with an adult life, and for that we thank you. No where else is there any acknowledgement of the challenges of balancing an active family life with academics, and for that we thank you. No where else is there an opportunity to highlight our roles as parents or providers along with our academic achievements, and for that we thank you. And no where else is the hard work and dedication of the non traditional student rewarded in such a way. I speak for all the awardees today in expressing gratitude and appreciation to the Rotarians for this gift, and more importantly for the acknowledgment of the struggles that come with the unique needs of our fresh start.
  
Fresh starts are hard. They don't come easy. First, you must admit you did something not quite right, then you must admit you deserve to move on. Maybe you got a degree in something that now seems irrelevant. Maybe you dropped out, or were even kicked out, and ended with debt, but no degree. Maybe you never even considered college in the first place, thinking you weren't smart enough, or good enough. All of those things make it hard to just start. And we all know, the longer you wait, the more excuses you find, and the harder it is to take that first step.
 
But everyone in this room, whether they be the awardees, or the benefactors, should feel a particular sense of pride in that you all took the first steps on your own personal journeys. That step may have been to see an admissions counselor, or it may have been in seeking an organization that reflects your need to place,  "service above self," but whatever that first step was, it would became a journey. A journey with a little fork in the road where we all meet today.
 
True, some of us here will find their wallets a little lighter, so that others will find their spirits a lot higher, but whichever of those we are, I am confident we will all go on to complete our journey with just that much more pep in our step for having 
had the fortune to cross paths here today. And all because we each had the courage to take those very hard, very first steps.
 
When sharing my own academic journey with people I often here this: "Aww man, I want to do that, but"..... And I understand all those buts, for they are all reasons why I shouldn't be able to do the things I'm doing right now. 15 years ago I actually flunked out of the very same university I have a 3.9 in today. 12 years ago I put whatever ambition I had left on hold and started to raise the family that today provides my greatest support. Two years ago I thought I had reached a stopping point when I discovered the highly competitive year long internship I would need, would not only have to be paid for out of pocket, but come with hours too long to even consider my ability in getting a paying job. Today, I am one of 20 students in one of the most coveted coordinated Medical Dietetics programs in the country, and about to start that very same internship. All because somewhere along the way, like you, I exchanged the "buts" and the "I cant’s" into those very hard, very first steps. 
  
My own first step back to school began at Columbus State, so I do want to take just a moment to acknowledge the importance of the community college for the non traditional student. If it were not for the scheduling options and classes they offered, I truly would not be able to be standing here today. Not only was I able to pay for these classes out of pocket, with no need of loans, the education I received there was unparalleled. I had a chemistry professor who would work with me privately for 2 hours a week, every week, for the entirety of the semester. I exchanged over 500 emails with an algebra instructor, I never met, who got me through her class with a near perfect score. I was able to take physiology, anatomy, and biology all on Sunday nights when it wouldn't interfere with my work or family schedule.
 
I left Columbus State not only fully prepared to compete academically upon transfer to OSU, but in nearly every instance my understanding of the fundamentals of the subject material was better than everyone else in the classroom. So, I would be remiss if I didn't take this one moment to acknowledge all of the amazing things that go on at the community college level and urge you all to consider supporting those institutions in whatever capacity you can. They truly make first steps possible for any American - traditional or otherwise, to begin their own academic journeys and prepare to compete in a global economy.
  
Finally, I want to say congratulations to all the awardees here today. You have worked hard, struggled, and achieved, and you have earned this. Wherever you are on your personal path, whether it be the beginning, or nearing the end, I encourage every one to take full advantage of all that your institutions offer. Reach out to your professors. If one of them offers an opportunity - do it. Go beyond that - ask them what they have to offer you. Go to the library - ask them what they have for you there. You would be amazed. Go to the tutoring room. Even if you think you don't need it. Do whatever you need to do. Reach out the people in this room. Share your story and share your passions. You never know where a connection can be made.  Reach out to your friends and families. No one wants you to achieve more. And certainly no one wants you to be more. 
  
Congratulations to the Rotarians for being able to offer $27,500 worth of scholarships here today. That is truly a remarkable achievement, one in which I know you deservedly take the greatest of pride in. And to the awardees, congratulations again on your achievements and I wish you all the greatest of success in your future careers and continued journeys.
 
Thank you.