Make yourself comfortable
Colleen Ross of Keene, a senior at River Valley Community College (RVCC), has been awarded the Ray Burton Memorial Scholarship Fund and The Gustafson Scholarship Fund. The Ray Burton Memorial Scholarship Fund recognizes a student attending a District 1 college who is trying to better their lives and others through education. The award is in honor of Ray Burton, long-time executive councilor from New Hampshire District 1, known for his tireless advocacy for New Hampshire citizens. The Gustafson Scholarship Fund acknowledges an individual who best represents using education as an investment for the future. This award is in honor of Richard Gustafson, former Chancellor of the New Hampshire Community College System and former President of Southern New Hampshire University.
An elementary school educator for 15 years, Ross decided to go back to school to expand her expertise in science. River Valley Community College provided several opportunities for Ross, who is both a graduate of the college and a currently enrolled student. She has identified ways she can turn her interests and education to help others during her time at RVCC. She graduates next summer 2019 with associate degrees in biological sciences, early childhood education, and liberal arts with a concentration in math and science.
While pursuing a degree in biological sciences, Ross found an opportunity to start a program for girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) at her local 4-H. The program, called B.e.G.I.F.T.S, Boys and Girls Initiating Future Thinking in Science, became a huge success and led to the creation of other similar programs. “What’s important is promoting leadership and advocating for youth,” said Ross, “so we have knowledgeable, productive, empathetic young adults who will take purposeful and intentional actions that will result in powerful interactions in the near future.”
Ross continues to advocate for young students by working at the elementary school where she took the first steps into public service and education. “We have more children living in nontraditional homes, so how do we teach this group effectively in ways that lead to positive growth?” said Ross. She hopes her education and service experiences will position her to answer questions like this in the future.
When Ross enrolled in River Valley Community College she said, “I was scared to start school because I was a nontraditional student, and I made many excuses to not go back. One day I finally applied for financial aid. On days I am struggling with being an educator, a scientist and a student I remind myself I am an action-taker, and I am not afraid to try new things.”
Even with River Valley’s lowest-in-the-state tuition, returning to college has been a financial challenge. Ross says the scholarship awards will ease the financial burden of earning her multiple degrees. “Both awards are such a huge surprise and a great honor. I go to school to help my community and it’s incredible to be honored for that,” she said. “What inspired and encouraged me to pursue scholarships are the faculty and staff here at RVCC. Making the choices to go back to school has put me on a path to creating programs for children in STEM. I am so grateful.”
To help address the significant shortfall in the number of nurses in New Hampshire, River Valley Community College (RVCC) is launching a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program, with its first student cohort beginning January 21, 2020.