Saturday, June 9, 2012

Rio Student on the Trail to Talbots Scholarship

Sandra Garayzar, a Rio Salado College honor’s student recently received a $10,000 scholarship from the Talbots Women’s Scholarship Program. Garayzar is one of only 17 applicants to receive this award. Scholarship recipients were selected upon criteria which include the student’s academic record, an essay, high potential to succeed, leadership skills, participation in community activities, and recommendations. Established in 1997, the program has awarded more than $1 million. Its goal is to encourage women to achieve higher education later in life.  

“The Talbot's scholarship is making a difference not only in my life but in the lives of my family,” added Garayzar. “The scholarship would have never happened had it not been for the solid academic foundation I received at Rio Salado.” 

After her business shut-down, Garayzar decided to reinvent herself. Although she was filled with insecurities about her age and the struggle to start an education after years of not attending school, the college gave her the encouragement she needed.

“Being an older student I have to juggle many responsibilities not to mention that many years had passed since I last attended school. Rio Salado's flexibility allowed me to start slowly with the course load and increase the load,” said Garayzar.

According to Garayzar her instructors and advisors took the time to address her needs and provide additional help. Their guidance challenged her to delve deeply into her studies which resulted in the opportunity to flourish academically. She looked forward to attending weekly seminars and was grateful for Rio professors, Peter Myers and Dr. Wilkinson who helped her succeed.

Jacque Beale, the manager of career services, and John Bastian, the coordinator of student services, were also both crucial to her success. As a mother of two with many responsibilities, Garayzar relied on Beale to help her maintain focus on academics. This allowed her to complete an associate degree in less than two years. With additional support from Bastian she decided to apply to Grand Canyon University. She compared Bastian to an academic GPS, answering all her questions within minutes. 

Garayzar will go on to pursue a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in substance abuse counseling. Her long-term goal is to create a foundation where counselors can travel with young people in drug rehab along the ancient 500 mile El Camino de Santiago trail in Europe. She believes this journey is the catalyst for significant positive changes in life perspectives.

She described the rehabilitation method by saying, “When a young person is told that they have to remain sober the rest of their lives it is an overwhelming thought; in the same way, when a young person is told they will walk 500 miles in a month, they are overwhelmed but they do both, one step at a time, one day at a time, achieving something extraordinary.”

Garayzar has achieved something extraordinary herself. It will be interesting to see where the Talbot scholarship will take her. 

By Patricia Oliverio-Lauderdale, PR Intern at Rio Salado College
Article published in the Tempe Republic June 9