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February 2, 2018

A recent JCCC grad left debt-free. You can, too.

Angela Walker shared her life story with a roomful of scholarship donors. She's willing to do the same for potential scholarship recipients if it means they'll apply.

"Why wouldn't you apply? It's easy. It doesn't take that long. I'd apply again if I could," she said.

Walker graduated from Johnson County Community College in December 2017 and, thanks to scholarships and a Pell Grant, she has no student loan debt. When she graduates from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) in two years, "I still expect to pay nothing out of pocket," she said.

Track down opportunities

Her "secret" is to seek out every opportunity. "Some scholarship applications have essay questions, and students don't want to fill those out. They can be a lot of work. But the (initial) JCCC application doesn't have any of those questions. It was quick, and I received $1,000,” she said.

No one helped her track down these opportunities. "Because of my childhood — really, I didn't have a childhood — I needed to figure out things for myself. I wanted to go to JCCC. I knew if I wanted it, I needed to make it happen," she said.

Walker grew up in Georgia and began taking classes at the local community college while still in high school. She describes her life there as "a bunch of stuff no child should have to go through." Now, living here, "I'm the happiest I've ever been in my life," she said.

Too busy? No excuse

Walker works at the Johnson County Sheriff's Office, assisting with day-to-day operations in the jail. "My co-workers have become my family," she said. "I love my job."

At UMKC, Walker is majoring in criminology and Spanish. She works more than 40 hours a week, takes a full load of classes and still manages to maintain a 4.0 GPA. "I have very high standards for myself," she said.

Walker said she already misses JCCC because the faculty and staff "honestly seem to care about you."

People who want to invest in you

Her scholarship from the JCCC Foundation helped her financially, but it meant something more, too. As she told donors during Some Enchanted Evening, a fundraising event for scholarships, "When you are all alone, in a new state, new school, new job ... the scholarship becomes emotional support. It says, 'There are people here who want to invest in me.' That means a great deal.

"When you move to a new school, in a new state, those scholarships are a social investment in you. I knew I had people who believed in me enough to choose me for the scholarship, and that gave me confidence."

Thanks to the donations from Some Enchanted Evening and the ongoing efforts of the JCCC Foundation, more than $1 million in scholarships is available for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Apply now

To apply, complete the scholarship application. Completion of your Free Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA) is suggested but not required. Some scholarships are need-based, some are merit-based and some are based on your involvement and interests. You'll never know your eligibility unless you apply. The priority deadline — when you have the best chance at knowing what scholarships are available to you — is April 1, 2018.

Questions? Contact the Financial Aid Office at 913-469-3840 or visit in person in SC 253, on the second floor of the Student Center.