Monday, January 14, 2008

Students 'Re-Vibe' their Education with Scholarships

Students win scholarships for online classes at
Rio Salado College

Debra Voss thought she was going to have to drop out of school. Suddenly separated from her husband, the 31 year-old mother didn’t have the money to pay tuition for this term.

But she’s back in class after winning a $500 scholarship in the Rio Salado College “Re-Vibe Your Education” contest. Voss has worked with the special needs population for several years but now wants to become a nurse.

“I was very happy to be awarded the scholarship. It couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Voss a member of the Native American Zuni Tribe.

The “Re-Vibe Your Education” contest held in partnership with 95.1 Latino Vibe is one of several Rio Salado College’s initiatives reaching out to Latino students, said Chris Bustamante, Rio Salado College Vice-President of Community Development and Student Affairs.

“We are hoping to encourage students to go back to school or to continue with their education. We would also like to introduce them to the convenience and quality of our online classes at Rio,” said Bustamante. “For many students the chance to take classes when and where they want makes a significant difference in their ability to earn a college education,” said Bustamante.

Besides collecting $500 for tuition and fees scholarship winners also receive a one-on-one session with both an academic advisor and financial aid counselor.

“We want to make sure these students have the right tools to be successful at the college. Quality academic advising as well as knowing all the options available for paying for a college education are important factors in whether students succeed,” said Bustamante.

Since August, 10 students have been awarded the $500 scholarships. Although the focus is on the Latino population the contest is open to anyone interested in going to college. First place scholarships winners also receive one year of free Internet service from Cox to complete the package.

Scholarships are based on outstanding accomplishments, community involvement, academic achievements and the desire to go to college. The public is encouraged to nominate themselves or someone they feel deserves to win.

Winners so far include Kathy Martinez, Mayra Rumbo, Daniela Hernandez, Elena Mota, Maria Avila, Sandra Ortega, Jose Pastor Jr., Monique Miranda and Chelsea Chavez.

Rio Salado College, a pioneer in online education, recently begin offering weekly start dates, meaning students can enroll in classes every Monday throughout the year so scholarship winners can begin class at any time.

Rio Salado has also implemented the Textbook Savings Program which can save students as much as 50 percent in upfront costs of textbooks. The Textbooks Savings Program begins in January and will be phased in. In the next few years the program is expected to expand to include a majority of the required textbooks.

“We call it the Rio Advantage. Weekly start dates, online student support, 24/7 helpdesk, affordable tuition, first rate faculty, and credits that transfer to a university at a fully-accredited institution that all make Rio Salado the college within everyone’s reach,” said Bustamante.

Rio Salado College is one of the ten Maricopa community colleges with more than 61,000 students, of which 26,000 are online. The college offers degrees and certificates in a variety of fields including business, education, healthcare, law enforcement and more. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or visit