Laura Bumpus (second from left), Ricky Harvey, Annette Kerlin, Kristen Trimble and Anne McVey of the Great Falls Friends and Neighbors present Mary Bramley, left, and Libby Dissauer, right, with a $50,000 endowment to be used for annual scholarships for adult women pursuing education at Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University.
George Mason’s Libby Dissauer understands students who juggle raising a family while pursuing an education, who have to decide whether to pay rent, buy food, get gas or pay tuition.
She remembers when she was 24, recently divorced and with a child.
“I had a rickety old Honda Accord, I wasn’t always sure it was going to get me to class,” said Dissauer, assistant director of Donor Relations at George Mason University’s Office of Advancement and Alumni Relations.
“I worked full time. I’ve worked full time since I was 19,” she said. “Some days, I’d figure, ‘I have to make a tuition payment this month,’ so, ‘Maybe I don’t buy groceries until Friday,’” she said.
“I believe now and I believed then that a college education is a key to success,” Dissauer told the membership of Great Falls Friends and Neighbors. “My story is not unique.”
GREAT FALLS FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS awarded George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College with a $50,000 endowment ($25,000 for each college) that will allow the Great Falls organization to award scholarships to working mothers who are pursuing degrees.
Great Falls Friends and Neighbors has made a commitment to assisting working women who want to continue pursuing their education. The endowment was announced at the monthly membership meeting at the Great Falls Library on Wednesday, April 12.
“Scholarships make such a great impact,” said Mary F. Bramley, assistant director of Northern Virginia Community College’s Educational Foundation.
Bramley told the Great Falls Friends and Neighbors about one of her students who drove 54 miles each day to hit the Northern Virginia Community College campuses to pursue his education.
“He could have gone to any campus he wanted to right after high school. He couldn’t afford it,” said Bramley, “His family couldn’t afford to not have him there, so he made that choice to stay at NOVA.”
GFFN SCHOLARSHIP BOARD was created by the Great Falls Woman’s Club in 1983 “to raise money and provide scholarships to post-college age women who are in need of a scholarship to finish their college education,” said Laura Bumpus, GFFN's director of scholarship awards.
“Through the many years, our club members have supported this effort by generously donating many volunteer hours and literally thousands of dollars,” said Bumpus. “These endowments are designed to ensure many women will continue being supported through scholarships awarded indefinitely.”
It’s a common story at Northern Virginia Community College campuses and at George Mason University.
“Many of our students are still very attached to their families, making choices not necessarily based on what their wants are but based on what their parents wants are and what their parents need and what their families need,” said Bramley.
After semesters at NOVA, her former student earned a Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship that pays $40,000 a year for him to attend Columbia University and two years of graduate school.
She and Dissauer attended Great Falls Friends and Neighbors meeting to give members an understanding of the impact their fundraising and efforts have.
“The students are so grateful, that’s what I have found time and time again,” said Bramley.
“It means so much to us to be able to thank the community for giving back,” said Dissauer.
“We really strive to improve the community around Mason and scholarship is critical to that,” said Dissauer. “We are not able to through state support alone help our students achieve their goals and become workforce ready.”
LAST YEAR, Great Falls Friends and Neighbors awarded scholarships to Martina Atabong, 35, of Alexandria, who is the first of her family to attend college and Lea Lines, originally from Springfield, who re-enrolled in academia after her youngest enrolled in elementary school.
“My family comes first,” said Lines, who has a 4.0 grade point average at George Mason University, is a member of two honors societies and volunteers for her nursing major and in the community. She plans to become a nurse in neonatal intensive care, pediatric intensive care or labor and delivery.
On April 24, Great Falls Friends and Neighbors Scholarship Fund will host the 2016 Spring Fashion Show at the Tysons Corner Bloomingdales on Sunday, April 24, from 10 a.m. to noon. The money will also contribute to this year’s scholarships.
“We will continue to raise money,” said Bumpus.
“We thank the many women before us and our current GFFN club and board members who have a great passion for women’s education because of the impact these graduates will have on their families and their communities,” said Bumpus.
The current scholarship board includes: Jan Lane, treasurer; Allison Granstedt, secretary; Sally-Anne Andrew-Pyne, director of fundraising; Annette Kerlin, director of publicity; Kristen Trimble, vice president and Ricki Harvey, president.