Xochitl Velazquez became a WAEF student in 2009 following her graduation from Eastmont High School. She was fortunate to receive the CCM scholarship from WAEF, an award funded by Columbia Fruit Packers, Columbia Marketing International and McDougall & Sons. The CCM scholarship covers tuition, books, room and board at Washington state public universities, or the equivalent amount if a student attends a private university. For students meeting renewal requirements, the award can be renewed for up to a total of four undergraduate years.
Applicants for CCM scholarships are reviewed in a multi-step process by the WAEF volunteer selection committee. Finalists in the process participate in a group interview with three members of the selection committee and representatives from each of the funding entities. A great experience for students but it goes without saying, a very stressful event for them as well.
Xochitl shares her thoughts on receiving her award, its impact and what she’s up to now:
Please share about receiving your scholarship.
Receiving this scholarship was life changing. I still remember receiving the congratulatory call from Jennifer Witherbee. I had been accepted to Gonzaga University and was excited to attending my dream school in the fall but was uncertain on how I would pay for college. Receiving this scholarship removed that uncertainty and contributed to my college success. The scholarship lifted the financial burden of paying for tuition and gave me the freedom to take part in extracurricular activities, which was an integral part of my success in college. I was part of mentoring programs and multicultural clubs which helped me build a great support system away from home. As a first generation college student, having a support network on campus was extremely important because it gave me the resources and encouragement to graduate college.
How did you determine your major and plan?
I had been interested in business since I started the Running Start program my junior year in high school. I knew I wanted to be a business/property owner in the future and a business degree would provide a strong foundation in pursing that goal. During my senior year of college, I developed a great interest in the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at Gonzaga. I had the desire to pursue a graduate degree, but also the financial ability because with my scholarships I graduated debt free as an undergraduate student. I had a clear idea of what I wanted to study in college and what my long term goal was.
However, I was uncertain on what I wanted to do after completing the MBA program. I was not sure what my career plan was or what industry I wanted to work in. I liked how a business degree offered me a variety of career paths but at the same time it was overwhelming because there were so many options. After some consideration, I decided I was still interested in real estate investments and took a job at a property management firm in Spokane. This position gave me insight into residential and commercial property management.
After living in Spokane for a few years, I decided I wanted to move back to Wenatchee to be closer to family. I liked property management but wanted to learn about other industries that would further prepare me for my future endeavors. Like a few years back, I was once again looking for a job and uncertain what path to take.
Looking back, I wish I would have used resources and connections I had made in the past to guide me in the process. Overall it was a learning experience and I rediscover my interests and goals.
What are you doing now?
I am a lender for Cashmere Valley Bank. Working in a new industry is challenging but at the same time exciting. There is a lot to learn about banking but I am enthusiastic about this opportunity. I believe a career in banking will benefit me on a personal level and guide me toward my long term goal. It is great to be back in my home town and working for an organization that encourages community involvement. A number of organizations in Wenatchee have been fundamental to my success so it was extremely important for me to come back and be part of the community and organizations that had such a great impact in my life.
Please share about your involvement with WAEF beyond receiving the CCM scholarship.
WAEF is one of the organizations that has seen me grow throughout the years and has given me the opportunity to grow with it. I had the opportunity to be part of WAEF’s Bloomsday team for three years. As a team we raised money to give out as scholarships. It was a rewarding experiencing being able to contribute to the scholarship fund for future WAEF students.
I am now a member of the WAEF Alumni Association and have attended a few WAEF events in Wenatchee since I have moved back. I am excited to be part of the WAEF organization through volunteer opportunities and as a member of the Alumni Association because I enjoy meeting current scholarship recipients and helping them throughout their college experience.
I was recently invited to be part of the scholarship committee, which I am very excited about this opportunity. I look forward to reviewing scholarship applications and learning about future WAEF students.
I am immensely grateful to the WAEF staff and all the donors for all they do in our community. It is great to be part of a community that encourages students to pursue higher education and help them achieve their academic goals. Thank you to the CCM donors for your support in my college success and your inspiration to give back.
We love learning about the successes of WAEF scholarship recipients! The impact of former students returning to help invest financially in future students and donate their time in volunteer roles at WAEF is significant.
Are you a WAEF alumni? If so, reach out to us and make sure we’ve got your updated contact information. You can learn more about joining the alumni association at http://waef.org/alumni/.