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Making a Difference Mondays, July 11

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Polk State College Grants Notes

At Polk State College, grants support a broad range of initiatives that make a difference to individual students and to the community as a whole.

“Polk State College Grants Notes,” is a new column that will be added to the Polk State College Foundation’s Making A Difference Mondays newsletter beginning next month.

Grants support the development of new high-tech education and training programs addressing regional workforce and economic development goals. They support programs that provide enhanced academic and support services, apprenticeship programs, and service learning opportunities. Grants also support curriculum development, professional development, the purchase of state-of-the-art technology and equipment, community collaboration opportunities, and the creation of shared value through the College’s initiatives.

Each month, “Polk State College Grants Notes” will feature one grant-funded project that exemplifies the important work done by PSC faculty, staff, students, and community partners. The first article will highlight the Polk State College Corporate College Supply Chain Management Institute funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. We will also share information about upcoming funding opportunities, projects currently in development, recent grant awards, and other grant related issues.

By getting the word out, we hope to inform, inspire, and continue to foster the Polk State College tradition of excellence.

Please contact Jennifer Fiorenza with any suggestions for grant topics or comments on this column.

Cheryl Day
Giving Back to Her Alma Mater

A large percentage of Polk State College graduates live and work in Polk County and Central Florida. Some even choose to work at their alma mater, as Cheryl Day has done since September 1973.

Alumni from Polk State College work in all capacities at the College –as adjunct professors, faculty members, career associates, professional/technical staff, and administrators. However, few—if any—can say that they have worked for each of the four presidents that the College has had in its nearly fifty-year history. Cheryl Day started at the College in the Business Education Department when Dr. Fred Lenfestey was President. She obtained her associate in science degree from Jones College in Orlando, and after working at Polk State College for a few years, she eventually obtained an associate in arts degree in 1976.

One of Cheryl’s favorite memories from early in her career is an opportunity she had to sit at an event with Dr. Lenfestey. A photographer from the newspaper captured them sitting together. At the retiree luncheon in April 2011, she and Lenfestey reconnected and she was able to show him the newspaper clipping from the event.

Over the years, Cheryl has served in the capacity of Instructional Assistant III, and through promotion has served as Instructional Assistant I in the student learning labs, assisting with organization, testing, and other student needs. In 1991, the learning labs were combined into the TLCCs, and she was made Supervisor for the Winter Haven Campus TLCC a few months after the merge.

When asked what the biggest change at the College has been during her 38 years, Cheryl notes that it is the way that students see themselves. She notes, “Today’s students see themselves more as serious consumers. They expect to be treated as customers.”

Cheryl’s post-retirement plans include projects at her house and possibly a road trip to Alberta, Canada to see relatives. Her legacy is in the success of the hundreds, if not thousands, of students she has worked with over nearly four decades.

Donor Spotlight: Todd Thuma
Instructional Technologist and Adjunct Instructor

I am an avid supporter of what the Polk State College Foundation, Inc. does for students and the College in general. As a family man, I can only give a few dollars each month, but my small contribution, along with the contributions of others, can combine to produce a tremendous impact on the residents of Polk County. Students and employees benefit from the support the Foundation provides. Scholarships support students who might not have the monetary resources to attend, or they lower the financial hurdles to obtaining a better opportunity for the future. Additionally, the Foundation provides emergency assistance to students mid-semester if a financial situation arises.

The Foundation uses my contribution to fill the gaps left by funding agencies and the government, which are unable to attend to every circumstance that would create a need for support while attending school. I will gladly contribute what I can each year, and hope to increase my contribution should my own financial situation change. I am glad that my money is being managed and overseen by professionals working toward student success.

Executive Director’s Greetings

Dear Colleagues,

Sometimes I feel like it is a tremendous understatement when I say Polk State College is such a great place to work.   June was reflective of why I believe it to be an understatement.  When legislators had to suspend matching funds for donations to State Colleges our community showed – yet again – how important Polk State College is to the overall good of Polk County.  As always, the generosity began with us, the College’s heart and soul, the employees.

When the initial word was communicated in June’s Making a Difference Mondays that the match suspension was inevitable, many employees who had not yet donated to the Employee Giving Campaign gave before the June 28 deadline.  Some of you gave an additional gift.  My heartfelt thanks to all of you!!! Shortly thereafter, the Foundation mailed out a giving brochure explaining the match suspension to our alumni, donors and friends of the College, the result was many generous contributions.  Because of you and your neighborsmore than $130,000.00 was donated to the Polk State College Foundation to assist our students in the month of June. Your altruistic support of the Foundation, the overwhelming support of corporate and community members, and the sincere appreciation of scholarship recipients reinforces the transformational difference we make every day through the power of higher education.

The match program has been a true blessing to college fundraising and has given State Colleges the ability to make an enormous positive impact on numerous students’ lives.  My fellow fundraisers statewide remain optimistic these funds will be matched as the state has seen hard times in the past, not matched donations temporarily, and caught up in better financial times.  We remain hopeful that the program will return in the same or some capacity once the backlog is caught up.  Although sorely disappointed about this suspension, we will not be deterred.  Polk State College students still need our help.  Philanthropists still want to make a positive impact in the lives of others.  Matching funds or none, education is still a wise investment for the elevation of our community.

I am extremely grateful for your philanthropy and for all that you do for the good of Polk State College and its students.

All the very best,

Tracy M. Porter,
Executive Director, Polk State College Foundation

Student Spotlight: Telisa Edwards
-She Knows Where She’s Going

Telisa Edwards, a 2011 graduate of Auburndale High School, will start this fall at Polk State College. She was presented with the Girls Incorporated She Knows Where She’s Going Scholarship by Dr. Eileen Holden at the May 12 luncheon of the same name that honors local women leaders in the community.

Girls Incorporated is a nonprofit organization that inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold through a network of local organizations in the United States and Canada. Telisa attended Girls Incorporated of Winter Haven as an after school activity and continued participating during the summer breaks of her first and second grades, and again during her fifth and sixth grades. She has many fond memories of her time there, and still keeps in contact with many of the girls she met as a young child.

While researching scholarships during her senior year, she remembered that her cousin had received the Girls Inc. scholarship in 2008, and stopped by the center to get more information. Telisa recalls, “I was so surprised to see my picture still on the wall after all these years, and that several of the program directors remembered me.”

In what she calls the “happiest week of my life,” Telisa remembers exactly how she felt when she got the call that she had been awarded the scholarship. “It was the day before my birthday, and I had a lot of things going on as I was getting close to graduation. That phone call changed my outlook on the day and changed my life. It was my best birthday present!”

An honors student, Telisa stayed focused on her studies during high school. She also volunteered at her church. The scholarship will help her family financially so that her mother, Teresa, does not have to worry about paying for college. Telisa credits the introspection needed to write her scholarship essay as the impetus that helped her focus on her career goals; the essay asked her what she would do with her future and education to assist the community. She has decided to pursue a degree in business and hopes that one day she can give back, possibly by helping another young girl achieve her dreams as well.