At Optimal, our goal is to provide students with the chance to realize their higher education goals. In addition to providing crucial information on college degrees and career paths, we have supported deserving individuals with quarterly scholarships since 2010. We're pleased to announce the winners for the spring 2022 round.
- Undergraduate Scholarship winner: Devon Norberto, enrolled in a political science bachelor's program at the University of New Mexico.
- Community College Scholarship winner: Paula Dockstader, completing an associate degree in social work at the College of Western Idaho.
- Online Degree Scholarship winner: Alma Arellano, earning an online master's in mental health and school counseling at Adams State University.
All three applicants demonstrate an unwavering commitment to their future careers, as well as a genuine desire to use their education to help others in vulnerable positions that they have experienced themselves.
Devon grew up on a reservation without access to resources commonly available to others, including crucial access to technology and internet. Throughout his youth, he had to navigate homophobia, bullying, and a lack of institutional support from schools in order to graduate from high school near the top of his class. Inspired by his grandmother, and motivated by the grief of her passing, Devon committed himself to finishing his schooling and getting a degree in political science. "My educational goal is to graduate at the top of my class at UNM and apply to law school," he writes. The Undergraduate Scholarship will give Devon the opportunity to achieve this goal, so that he can advocate for the rights of minorities, particularly the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color. Eventually, he wants to help the Navajo Nation and issues that affect his home state of New Mexico.
Paula, a single parent, is pursuing an associate degree after being inspired by a social worker who helped her son focus and succeed in the classroom after an ADHD diagnosis. "His social worker was the person that helped me get my son to a counselor and got us on the right track," she writes. Despite working full-time and facing health challenges, Paula is driven to become a social worker and assist parents like herself in finding resources for their children. The Community College Scholarship will allow Paula to continue her studies and "help people in [her] community find the resources they need to improve their lives."
Alma is a teacher who aspires to get a master's degree in mental health and school counseling. After working with students for 25 years, she now hopes to support them in their personal lives as well. Alma decided to enroll in an online program so she could continue working and providing financial relief to her family. The Online Degree Scholarship will ensure she stays on track to earning her degree by taking classes in the summer and fall. Alma has lived experience navigating the challenges of supporting veterans in her family with PTSD, separation, loss, and more, which motivates her to aid members of the military and the students she works with every day. That's what motivates her to aid her students further. "I hope that if I pursue the school counseling path I can help more groups of students see that there are many roads to success and sometimes you have to find a way past your twists, turns and stops to get there."
If you're pursuing a two- or four-year degree and need help paying for books, tuition, and other college expenses, the Optimal Scholarship Program can assist you with your academic goals. Students enrolled full- or part-time in on-campus, online, and hybrid programs are all eligible. More information on how to apply can be found on our scholarships page.