Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Students informed on collegiate aid, scholarship applications

Prior to the Feb. 24. deadline to apply for scholarship awards, Veronica Castro, scholarship coordinator from the Financial Aid Office, spoke to students and gave a presentation on how to develop a winning strategy to successfully help finance their future educational goals.Photo credit: Joe Zermeno

Students attended an afternoon Scholarship Workshop sponsored by the Re-Entry Resource Program, Mon. Feb. 9, for this purpose: to find ways to essentially get “free money,” to help defray the high rising costs of the educational systems they play to attend.

With a deadline date looming to complete the online general scholarship application of Monday, Feb. 24, students sat and listened intently as two speakers led the workshop: Rachel Samarin and Veronica Castro.

After attending a myriad quantity of classes at Cerritos College, working diligently and spending an inordinate amount of hours studying, to accomplish and attain a higher GPA, students decided to attend a scholarship workshop – for participating some even received extra credit.

“The (Re-Entry Resource) program is here to assist and support adult students returning to school after a gap in their education,” explained Shannon Estrada, re-entry resource specialist. “We strive to empower students by connecting them with the resources and services they need to pro-actively resolve obstacles, financial concerns being one of these, and facilitate the attainment of their educational and professional goals and scholarships is one way to help.”

Speaking on behalf of the Cerritos College Foundation, Rachel Samarin, scholarship relations, explained that scholarships awarded last year totalled $222,779 in academic and need-based scholarships to deserving students, and provided $1,242,610 to support various academic programs at the college.

For the last six and a half years, the non-profit organization, the Foundation, has served as a charitable vehicle for the community, individuals and alumni, to assist with financial support of Cerritos College undergraduates.

Visiting the Foundation online was strongly suggested by Samarin. She said that scholarship money isn’t state or government funded. Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Pell grants and donations come from all corners of the community.

There are over 100 scholarships available from the Foundation pertaining to various disciplines and courses of study, but students shouldn’t be dissuaded from applying due to the (limited) amount listed on the website.

“You should apply anyway, even if you don’t fit a listed category available for (the ) particular niche.”

Major and programs vary: child development (single mother), economics (24 years or older), real estate, athletics, community involvement, DSPS, EOPS, La Mirada and Norwalk residents (min 3.0 GPA), stem majors, transfer students and veterans, are just a few of the categories available.

Samarin gave students advice on how to seek out and apply for scholarships and highlighted the best ways to boost their chances of receiving a free grants.

Resumes and the all important “reference” were discussed.

References should expect an email from ScholarSelect with a link to provide his or her recommendation letter, which must be submitted electronically.

“It may take two months to be processed and by late semester for you to be contacted,” Samarin said.

Over 500 applications are generally applied for two times a year.

Foundation scholarships in the spring aren’t put on a Falcon card, but given to students by check.

Student Stephanie Gomez asked about community and leadership references, which are often asked for. Samarin informed the group of the value of participation at the myriad of activities offered to Cerritos students such as student government and individual clubs the college offers.

You can find the Foundation on Facebook for scholarship descriptions, reminders and application tips, by calling 562.467.5047 ext. 2539, or emailing Samarin at [email protected].

The second speaker was Veronica Castro, scholarship coordinator, from the Financial Aid Office. She said her department is responsible for the review and dissemination of financial resources to help students meet their educational expenses to help achieve their educational efforts.

Castro presented a multi-page Power point presentation, highlighting steps to successfully procuring scholarship(s).

Her slide, “Where to look for scholarships,” encompassed seven points ranging from searching the internet, looking into clubs or honor societies and communities or organizations.

Castro said in applying for any specific scholarship, it’s important to meet all required criteria requested by the donor for the award, “It is very important to read the criteria and to submit all documents by the appropriate deadline per award.

If you meet five of the six requirements, you don’t qualify, and if you don’t qualify, it won’t be read … so don’t apply,” she emphasized.

“Proofreading, proofreading and proofreading your application for errors,” along with providing complete transcript records and proof of financial need are requisite for success in being awarded a scholarship.

“With so many applicants, the interviewers are looking for ways to shorten the list,” Castro said.

In writing the essay and personal statement sections of the application requested by the donor group, it is very important to fully address the subject.

Writing about your community involvement and significant life experiences may illustrate the importance of your educational goals to the interviewer, but honesty and creativity are encouraged.

“Just be honest. Everyone has a story, so write your personal essay based on your lifestyle,” Castro said.

Castro gave other personal statement advice on preparing your application documents: What motivated you to enroll in college?

Describing your current college experiences, your past achievements and experiences, would highlight your commitment and dedication to your educational goals to the interviewer, along with a statement as to why you deserve the particular scholarship you are applying for.

She recommended keeping a copy of your autobiography, your transcripts and recommendations if available, for future grants-in-aid.

Community references are important Castro said. She asked students if you are active in college clubs, it is important to have dates and times and listing your volunteer activities.

“The ASCC provides a lot of clubs to get involved in and is a good way to know the campus better,” Castro said.

Visiting the colleges Success Center for individual writing assistance and the workshops available are a path to a successful award.

An important point when you are awarded this “free money” is to thank the donor, association or representative of the donor.

To get further information regarding scholarships, financial aid and grant-in-aid awards, contact Castro from the Financial Aid office at (562) 860-2451, ext. 3226, or email her at [email protected]

Rachel Samarin, scholarship relations, can be contacted at the Cerritos College Foundation at (562) 860-2451, ext. 2539, or email at [email protected].

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Joe Zermeno
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Students informed on collegiate aid, scholarship applications