Mesa Community College (MCC) student Marcus Downing has been awarded the Nina Mason Pulliam Legacy Scholarship for the 2016-2017 academic year. The program covers full tuition, fees, books and provides the student with an academic advisor mentor. It also includes a $2,750 annual living allowance.
The scholarship is funded by The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust and provides educational opportunities for individuals who would not normally receive traditional academic scholarships and whose personal commitments and financial circumstances would preclude their attendance without substantial, long-term scholarship support.
Downing, 41, a web development major at MCC, said he was thrilled to receive notification of his scholarship. Through the Maricopa-ASU Pathways Program, he plans to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree after completing his associate’s degree at MCC.
He enrolled at MCC based on a family member’s recommendation and discovered the scholarship opportunity on the college’s website.
“Learning I received this scholarship is truly a blessing,” said Downing, who has raised his son on his own since the child was 5 years old. “When I first attended college right out of high school in 1993, I didn’t have the tools or the money to complete the degree. Now I can show my son that when you start something, you keep going until you finish. You may get knocked down but you always get back up.”
Downing was chosen as one of eight recipients out of 20 Arizona finalists. The scholarship is available to adults who are 25 years or older who have dependents in their family units, incoming freshmen ages 18-25 who have been raised through the child welfare system and have no form of financial support, and college-age youth and adults with physical disabilities.
Downing said returning to college after many years away has been challenging at times, but with assistance from tutors and professors, his classes are going well. He advises other students in similar situations to take the time to apply for scholarships and be truthful to themselves.
“There is no book on how to live life or be a parent,” Downing said, “but this is something I need to do. What drives me is to keep my word and not give up. Returning to college at MCC is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”