EVERETT — In college, books can be expensive.
Araceli Daza knew that when she enrolled at Everett Community College. But the sticker shock is still real, she said. Since last year, she’s had to buy 17 books, adding up to hundreds of dollars, she said.
She’s going to community college to save money. She doesn’t want to worry about loans, and doesn’t want to worry her parents — even though they’re more than supportive of her academic career.
Luckily, a scholarship from the Everett Community College Foundation erased those worries. Thanks to the fund, Daza said she’s able to buy books and pay some of her tuition. And now she can focus on her academics.
“I wanted to stay home and stay local for the first two years, to get the hang of everything,” she said.
Daza is one of many students who have been supported by the foundation since its founding in 1984.
Back then, the first foundation director Bill Deller “was walking down the street with a tin can, basically” recalled his son, Mike Deller, in a recent interview with The Daily Herald.
The foundation grew, both in importance and in funding, after the Feb. 16, 1987 fire that burned down Cascade Hall — home to the college’s student union, library and cafeteria — and took the life of Gary Parks, an 18-year veteran of the Everett Fire Department. Afterward, the community donated hundreds of thousands of dollars and tens of thousands of books, according to a book detailing the first 75 years of the college.
In recognition of Parks, the foundation has since established a scholarship in his name and raised money for a bronze sculpture, depicting a firefighter’s jacket and helmet. A scholarship was named in his honor, as well.
Now the nonprofit has assets totaling $5.6 million. In the 2018–19 academic year, the foundation gave $416,000 in scholarships to more than 250 students. An additional $443,000 went toward 45 college programs.
The average scholarship is $1,625. Foundation director John Olson said he’d like to see that number grow, as tuition and cost of living for students becomes more expensive. The foundation has a goal of doubling the number of scholarships over the next five years.
Olson reflected on how many students at the college stay in the community.
“The number of people who have come through here and gone on to be successful in the community is remarkable,” he said. “You’d be hard pressed to find someone in the community who hasn’t taken a class here.”
Daza could be one of those students, though she says she’s pondering going to a university out of state. She’s still figuring out what she wants to do with her life; she said she likes the idea of public administration, particularly in schools.
She’s already involved herself in several leadership positions. In high school, she was part of five clubs. And this year at the college, she was selected to be president of the Associated Student Body.
“I still don’t know how that happened,” she said.
In Snohomish, her hometown, Daza also is a member of the school district’s Human Rights and Equity Team. There, she hopes to make the district more inclusive for people. For example, she said, the district currently sends emergency notices to parents in English, meaning non-English speaking parents may not fully grasp what’s happening. She’d like to change that, she said.
Olson used one word to describe the college: “Opportunity.” He said Everett Community College gives people a chance to pursue an education and learn new skills when that might not be possible elsewhere.
For Daza, the college provides her the opportunity to learn what she wants to do in the future.
The biggest challenge?
“It’s figuring what you’re going to be doing,” she said. “It’s like great, I’m out of high school, then it’s like, wait, I have to do something, and I have to go somewhere, the transitioning can be hard.”
But it’s OK for that transition to be hard, she said, because, really, nobody knows what they’re doing.
How to help
The Everett Community College Foundation accepts monetary donations as well as in-kind gifts, including computers, furniture, tools and equipment that can be used in classrooms. People also can donate a vehicle through NW Charity Donation Service, with proceeds going toward the foundation.
For a full list of ways to give, visit www.everettcc.edu/administration/foundation.
Contact foundation director John Olson for more information at 425-388-9555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.