Months into their planning efforts to award scholarships for deserving women in April, COVID-19 made its ugly appearance and all their earlier planning required a Plan B to be developed and implemented almost instantly. The applications for the Women in Transition (WIT) scholarship had been arriving in the mail from women over the age of 21 in time for the deadline. That made the scholarship committee more determined to award their scholarships on time. On an individual basis, 12 ladies reviewed the applications. Each chose her preference in priority order for the six finalists to be interviewed.
With the help of Jim Burkstrand, a member of Quail Creek’s computer club, the members held a meeting using Skype to discuss the top candidates. Skype technology afforded only limited success with the large number of ladies online at the same time. Jim then experimented with Zoom, and once security protocols were applied, it proved to be a success. There were 12 members on the interview committee, but to ensure everyone could be heard without interruption, only Jeri Collins and Margot Elsner were allowed to ask questions of the applicants. The rest were muted throughout the call. All candidates were asked the same questions to ensure fairness. After the interviews were completed, all on the call were unmuted so that they could discuss the results and determine who would ultimately be awarded a scholarship. The four winners included:
April Escarcega, age 40, started volunteering at the Sahuarita Food Bank where her dedication and organizational skills were quickly recognized. She was offered a part-time position as logistics coordinator. With the scholarship that will pay for her training in its entirety, she will be able to earn a professional warehouse manager certification.
Harley Plasencio, 25, is the first one in the history of her family to attend college. She is currently working as a home health aide, while taking courses at Pima Community College/Arizona State University to become a registered nurse. The scholarship will help her achieve her goal of becoming a geriatric nurse.
Jasmine Spear, 36, was the first recipient of a The Women of Quail Creek WIT Scholarship in 2015. Graduating with a degree in Public Health from Brigham Young University in April 2020, her ultimate goal is to become a nurse practitioner. Jasmine will use the scholarship to take preliminary nursing courses at Pima Community College.
Marisa Acosta, 28, a 2019 scholarship recipient, is currently a 6th grade math teacher at San Xavier School. With this year’s award, she will be able to complete the requisite courses to obtain an Arizona teaching certificate. During the school year, Marisa was instrumental in getting Raytheon Native American engineers to partner with the school to establish the Raytheon American Indian Network. Marisa will be awarded the Quigley Robichaud Scholarship, established in memory of a 96-year-old longtime QC resident who died in 2019. Ms. Robichaud also returned to school at a later age to earn a college degree.
A congratulatory event will be scheduled for fall.