Sheridan College social sciences student Hayley Uecker was one of five students nationwide recently selected for Optimal’s spring quarter Community College Scholarship. Uecker, from Dayton, plans to graduate in 2021 and eventually become an elementary school teacher. She will be the first in her family to complete a college degree.
Optimal, an education research publisher and scholarship provider founded in 2004, chooses winners based on their answers to two main questions: How do you plan to use your degree in the next five years? And are there any special familial or personal reasons contributing to your financial needs?
According to Optimal, scholarship recipients have a vision for how they would like to move forward with their education, and they have shown how difficulties with finances threaten to prevent them or slow them down from reaching their goals. These scholarships, then, help cover some of their bills and tuition expenses, giving these deserving students the ability to focus more on their education.
Uecker says recognizing common challenges in the education system, like the shortages of teachers needed for quality instruction, makes her want to make a difference for the children in her community. She credits her previous teachers for instilling in her the desire to create change through teaching.
“Had I not had such wonderful and amazing teachers early on in my education, I would not have the desire to teach that I have now,” she said.
Uecker believes she has the ability to make learning fun for her future students and to set them up with a solid educational foundation for their future. She acknowledges the considerable financial burden that higher education can bring, so she has pursued her studies while working part-time and also supporting her family however she can.
“This scholarship allowed me to continue going to college,” said Uecker. “Getting my degree means I’ll be able to get out there and find a job that suits me and be financially stable and be more successful in life.”
According to Uecker, the Gear-Up Program at Sheridan College was pivotal in her ability to identify and successfully secure the scholarship.