Scholarship continues to provide access for community

February 13, 2014

When Greenfield Community College says it is accessible to everyone and committed to student success, it means it. In 2007, generous anonymous donors helped GCC establish the Community Access Scholarship Fund to provide the financial support future students need to help overcome their personal circumstances and allow them to make a successful transition to college. In addition to financial support, the Community Access Scholarship Fund provides a network of services at GCC and in the local community which support student success and advancement. Since 2007, the Scholarship Fund has provided over $900,000 assistance to hundreds of students and for college support services.

“This scholarship fund was established to reach out to those within the community who do not see themselves as college-bound,” said GCC President Robert Pura. “Too many in our community leave high school with a degree and begin to settle for less because they lack confidence or direction or both. Too many people of all ages in our community live without hope or aspiration. Far too many tell themselves that they do not belong; they fear that they cannot succeed. This program is created to contradict those messages with others that shout out ‘you do belong, you can succeed.’”

Sarah Scarchilli-Janus is the Academic Counselor for the Community Access Scholarship Fund. Along with assisting individual students on campus, Sarah works with social service agencies to connect with potential students and convince them they can succeed in college. Sarah said, “This Scholarship Fund supports a wide range of students: traditional college-aged and older students, people in crisis, single parents, people living in shelters, and those who were recently incarcerated. The Scholarship Fund helps those who are trying to patch together the finances to attend GCC, as well as students who need one-on-one support to overcome their own barriers to college.”

Recently, Sarah helped 19-year-old Shawn Englehardt from Gill. In 2012, Shawn transferred to GCC from Turners Falls High School via the College’s Educational Transitions Program (ETP), a program supported by the Community Access Scholarship Fund. The ETP allowed Shawn to finish his high school degree while completing his freshman year at GCC. Now in his second year at GCC, Shawn is majoring in Computer and Information Sciences.

While ETP and scholarships from Shawn’s father’s former workplace have helped pay for Shawn’s education, there isn’t money in the family budget to pay for Shawn continuing at GCC. This semester, Shawn started Comparative Politics with Buz Eisenberg, but didn’t know how he would pay for it. GCC’s financial aid office had offered Shawn a loan, but he wasn’t sure he’d be able to pay back a loan. Shawn’s advisor, Bryan Smith, told him to talk to Sarah Scarchilli-Janus.

Shawn went to Sarah’s office and told her about his tuition bill. Two hours later, Sarah emailed Shawn to tell him that through the Community Access Scholarship, generous donors had paid his outstanding bill. Shawn said, “It was fantastic! Without that, I would have had to drop the class. I was taken by surprise. I didn’t know how I would repay a loan. Now, my family and I don’t have to worry. I can focus on schoolwork rather than how I’m going to pay for it.”

Find out how to apply for GCC Scholarships on Monday, Feb. 24, Noon in Room C208 on GCC’s Main Campus. Come learn about what scholarships are out there, including our very own GCC Foundation Scholarships available through the support of our community! Learn how to apply to these scholarships to help fund your educational goals. Contact Bryan Smith at 413-775-1846 or or for Community Access Scholarship information, call Sarah Scarchilli-Janus at 413-775-1336.

By Mary McClintock ’82