By Gretchen Wing
This fall, three Lopez graduates headed off to colleges around the country, aided by the Lopez Island Community Scholarship Foundation. LICSF is dedicated to providing Four- to five-year scholarships—currently $5,000—to Lopez graduates, matching them with advocates to help them navigate challenges and make the most of higher education.
While all three grads credit the scholarships with their ability to choose colleges, their initial experiences have varied as much as their choices. Ashwini Bartolucci attends Mills College in California; Anah-Kate Drahn chose Oxford College of Emory University in Atlanta; and Tobin Arden is a freshman at Western Washington University. Bartolucci said, “I didn’t think I would settle into college life as easily as I did,” while Drahn mentioned “a steep learning curve, navigating how to manage time between studies and social life.” Arden, for his part, discovered “the difference between getting decent grades and really good grades: you needed to put in an absolute ton of time.”
The advocacy portion sets LICSF apart from most scholarships. Drahn said her advocate, Richard Carter, is “someone I feel comfortable being honest with, someone who has my back.” Bartolucci’s advocate, Erika Davis, is an alumna of Mills, and during her first semester, Bartolucci felt comforted to “know I had someone to reach out to at any time.” “Friendship” was how Arden characterized his relationship with Vaughan Williams: “We share our ideas and thoughts in a jovial, semi-serious sort of way.”
The advocates benefit equally from the relationship. Said Davis about Bartolucci, “I get the deep satisfaction of being involved in the continued development of what has already been a very large and influential life.” While acknowledging that the straight-A Bartolucci would likely be succeeding no matter what, Davis enjoys having “a particular knowledge of what Mills might have to offer Ashwini—and what she might have to offer Mills.” Carter also highlighted Drahn’s all-A’s first semester. And advocate Williams said, “Tobin is incredibly dedicated and hard-working. I want to grow up to be just like him.”
All participants highlighted the uniqueness of this scholarship. Carter called its long-term vision “unprecedented in my experience,” adding: “Hats off to the board; Lopez is very lucky to have these experienced, motivated people working together to support our students long-term.” Arden agreed: “To the community, I’d say it’s a wise place to put your money.”
The graduates’ plans are equally varied and exciting. Drahn reported, “I am closer to my career as a nurse, and plan to stay on that track,” and she will be applying for a leadership position to help other Oxford College students. Bartolucci is pursuing a career in international relations with a minor in Spanish. Arden’s career plans are still forming, but, he said, “I want to be able to show you all that I’m well worth the money I’ve been awarded to use.”
Lopez Island Community Scholarship Foundation was created when board members of the Dollars for Scholars program decided they wanted something tailored more closely to local priorities. Funding for all three of these first scholarships came from very generous Lopez Island community members, and the board, led by Jeanna Carter, hopes to fund even more aspiring young Lopezians. As Arden put it, LICSF “motivates me to do my best, knowing that people are behind me.” Drahn added, “I am incredibly thankful to have a scholarship that can be renewed throughout my undergraduate career.” And perhaps Davis captured the spirit of LICSF best, calling the scholarships “a reminder that the community which fostered these students continues to care and nurture their dreams.” To learn more, please visit www.licsf.org