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OCC scholars honored at annual luncheon

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published March 25, 2015

 Student scholarship recipient Daniel Stocker, of Marysville, speaks during Oakland Community College Foundation’s 23rd annual scholarship luncheon March 19 at the Orchard Ridge Campus.

Student scholarship recipient Daniel Stocker, of Marysville, speaks during Oakland Community College Foundation’s 23rd annual scholarship luncheon March 19 at the Orchard Ridge Campus.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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FARMINGTON HILLS — Oak Park resident Kenyatta Mack, 43, put her college plans on hold after she became pregnant at 19 years old. Tragedy struck two years later, when her daughter’s father was murdered in 1994.

“I was a single parent overnight,” Mack said to a large crowd during the Oakland Community College Foundation’s 23rd annual scholarship luncheon March 19 at the Orchard Ridge Campus.

“Most parents want the world for their children, and I was no different. I gave my all to her — and that meant my stuff had to be put on the back burner. I get really emotional talking about that.” 

Fortunately, the 2014 graduate — who obtained a degree in business with a concentration in accounting — will continue her educational path by attending Walsh College in the fall.

Her journey regained steam after her daughter graduated high school in 2010, and Mack and her husband decided to set an example for their children by going to college together.

“I always stressed to my children the importance of school,” she said. “The best thing to do is lead by example. We made it a family project. We have to show our kids that, don’t be like us, be better than us.”

Mack told the crowd that with her husband at Washtenaw Community College and her daughter attending college out of state, everyone “stepped out on faith” with the help of scholarships.

“After being at OCC for a little while, I was all about scholarships and I applied for everything,” Mack said. “These scholarships paid for my books.”

Mack received two $500 OCC Golf For Scholarships Endowed Scholarships during the fall and winter 2014-15 semester.

“It really just alleviated a lot of stress, a lot of pressures, especially (with) three people in school at the same time,” Mack said after the event. “We do work full time. We don’t have this abundance of amount of money where we’re able to take care of everything.”

OCC awarded 260 scholarships totaling $150,594 in the 2014-2015 school year, according to a press release.

The scholarship luncheon gives scholarship recipients and donors an opportunity to celebrate the students’ success.

OCC Foundation Executive Director Carol Furlong said that although OCC puts students at the core of every decision it makes, there is still “so much more work to be done.”

“Our dream is that every student can aim high through a career-focused curriculum through our highly trained faculty,” Furlong said during the event.

Scholarship recipient Daniel Stocker, of Marysville, discussed how he benefited from scholarships as a police academy recruit. He received the LJPR public accounting firm’s Guns & Hoses scholarship and the Michigan Schools and Government Credit Union scholarship.

Stocker said he wanted to be a cop ever since he was young, and when making good money for several years out of state was not enough for him, he decided to return home.

“I left a very well-paying job,” he said. “(Being a cop) has always been in my back pocket, and I came home and tried to find a job.”

Stocker then tried his hand at the Oakland Police Academy, where he applied for scholarships and was awarded one after waiting 17 weeks.

“I got a little teary-eyed because I had to borrow some money for the academy from some family members. It was kind of a hardship,” Stocker said. “I spent a lot of money to come home and follow my dream. It was the fact that someone actually thought about me, and it got me to my dream a lot quicker.”

Stocker is now at the Port Huron Police Department in St. Clair County, where he has wanted to work since he was 6.

“I thank everyone who helped me this year; it really meant a lot,” Stocker said.

OCC student and scholarship recipient Connor Newton, who attended the event with his mother, Janice Newton, received the OCC Foundation Board of Directors scholarship for $1,000.

He plans to transfer to Wayne State University, where he will study English and German.

He said he took an interest in the German culture and language after taking a class in high school.

“I decided it would be a good foreign language to learn,” Connor Newton said. “I’m interested in the foreign service, so I thought that would be a good entrance into diplomacy in Europe.”

Connor Newton said he was pleased and surprised about receiving the scholarship.

“After submitting 10-12 scholarship applications, it was very gratifying to receive a positive answer,” he said. “I think (the scholarships) are a very valuable asset that they’ve provided to the college in making this education even more accessible to more people.”

Janice Newton said her son is “going places.”

“This sounds like a mom who thinks her kid is perfect, but I thought he deserved it. He works very hard, and I was really excited, but not surprised. He is a 4.0 student. He just excels in everything he has done,” Janice Newton said.

OCC Chancellor Timothy Meyer said success is not an individual thing, but a community one.

“That is what we’re here about: a community of those who are reaching out to support our students, and our students reaching out to our community to be supported. Without that level of interaction … individuals’ lives ... would not be so touched, would not be so successful. One of the things that we all do recognize is that our success is based on the success of those who come before us.”

The OCC Foundation was formed in 1979 to receive private contributions from community members, corporations, philanthropic foundations, alumni and more, according to a press release.

All donations to the OCC Foundation are eligible for federal tax deductions.

For more about the foundation, visit www.oaklandcc.edu/foundation.

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