Leaders from the Colorado Community College System (CCCS), Community College of Aurora (CCA), and Amazon celebrated the launch of the new Presidential Scholars Program that aims to empower a new generation of student leaders.
Conceptualized by CCA president Dr. Mordecai Brownlee, the Presidential Scholars Program will provide financial assistance, leadership development, and career mentoring for 20 students over the next two years. The Foundation for Colorado Community Colleges helped secure a $70,000 gift from Amazon to start up the program.
At a celebration event, CCCS Chancellor Joe Garcia said the Presidential Scholars program is one of a kind thanks to its holistic approach.
The Presidential Scholarship program recognizes that not only do students need financial support, but other services that will help them develop leadership skills and position them for future success in their academic and career trajectory.” – Joe Garcia, CCCS Chancellor
“We educate a high percentage of first-generation and low-income students—students who may lack resources but never lack ambition,” he said. “The Presidential Scholarship program recognizes that not only do students need financial support, but other services that will help them develop leadership skills and position them for future success in their academic and career trajectory.”
President Brownlee agreed, recounting how mentors transformed his college experience.
“When I began to receive mentorship from my supervisors at the college and folks began to pour into me, a lightbulb went off,” he said. “This particular scholarship is just one of many opportunities we’re going to create for students to help their light bulb go off.”
The scholarship builds on Amazon’s existing partnerships with CCCS colleges. CCA, Community College of Denver, Front Range Community College, and Pikes Peak State College all participate in Amazon’s Career Choice program, which provides tuition assistance for Amazon employees.
“Our investment in the Presidential Scholars Program will create high-wage and high-earning opportunities for individuals around the world,” said Brittany Morris Saunders, Amazon’s Head of Community Affairs for the Denver Region and board member with the Foundation for Colorado Community Colleges. “We couldn’t think of a better school to partner with than the Community College of Aurora.”
Later this spring, CCA will announce the first cohort of Presidential Scholars, one of whom will be an Amazon Career Choice participant continuing their education at CCA. Each scholar will receive $3,000 in financial assistance annually.
“I am a first-generation student, and I can confidently say that without the support of scholarships—and the many mentors and advisors in my community—I would not be where I am today,” said Anthony Luevanos, Student Government Association president and current CCA student. “The recipients of this scholarship will be the leaders of tomorrow.”