Thursday, January 3, 2008

Essay Winners Rewarded with Textbook Savings This Month

In her senior year of college, Gevora Griggs of Mesa dropped out just shy of of earning a degree. That was in 1992.

"Since then I didn’t think I’d ever be able to fit a degree into my life,” she said. “Now I finally can thanks to online classes.”

Griggs, an appointment specialist at the Mayo Clinic, is one of five winners of the Rio Salado College ‘Rio Advantage’ essay contest. Students submitted essays about which of the college’s advantages make their college experience better. Griggs chose online classes.

“Because I’m a full-time employee, wife and mother, going to class even just once a week is not really an option,” she said. “With online classes I can devote the time that I need to my family and still be able to go to school. I can log on at midnight if I have to and do what I need to do. That’s been wonderful for me.”

Griggs returned to school last March at the age of 38 to fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse.

Fellow essay winner Heather Robinson of Chandler followed a similar path as Griggs before enrolling in Rio Salado teacher education classes in August.

“I have tried to earn a college degree for the past 12 years, but due to work schedules and children this has been impossible,” she wrote in her essay.

Robinson left a lucrative job in corporate training when her son was born and decided to make the most of her time while she was at home.

“I was caught up in the whole ‘I have to actually be in a classroom in order to go back to school’ thing, so it prevented me from going back to school earlier,” she said.

“These online classes have been structured and reliable. I know I am getting the same quality education those attending a university receive.”

Robinson, a stay-at-home mother of two, plans to teach elementary students once she graduates.

Other contest winners include Mesa resident Kari Taylor (pictured above with Rio Salado College Vice President of Community Development and Student Services Chris Bustamante), William Hadjison of Bullhead City and Patricia Negri of Tucson. Each winner was awarded a $100 voucher valid for textbook purchases or tuition.

The essay contest is in honor of Rio Salado’s new Textbook Savings Program that the college launched last month in partnership with Pearson Custom Publishing and Follett Higher Education Group. The groundbreaking program cuts textbook costs for students by up to 50 percent by using customized textbooks containing exactly the material required for Rio Salado courses.

“I pay my tuition with my financial aid and then the books can be another $200-$300,” Robison said. “Anything that saves students money like the Textbook Savings Program is very helpful.”