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Osher Grants Offer Second Chances


Osher Grants Offer Second Chances

UC Riverside wins more than $1 million for re-entry students who would like another chance at college.

(December 5, 2008)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) -- While some universities are making ends meet by making it tougher to get in, UC Riverside has just received more than $1 million to help students who dropped out of school for five years or more, but came back.

The Osher Foundation, for the third school year, has given UCR $50,000 for scholarships for these re-entry students, and this time the Foundation gave the university an additional $1 million endowment, Financial Aid Director Sheryl Hayes said.

“This will allow us to continue awarding $5,000 each for 10 students for each school year for the forseeable future,” she said.

The re-entry students’ stories are amazing but true, she said. Their ages range from late 20s to 40s, mid-life and up. Many are from the Inland area. They were college or university dropouts for different reasons, sometimes heartbreaking.

Now, they’re in the top 10 percent of their class when it comes to academic grades, Hayes said. “Considering their challenges in life, they are very high-achieving.”

Further, their new career paths are those of community service, she said. “When you look at them, they’re going to be teachers; they’re going to be counselors; they’re going to be giving to their community in some way. They’re exceptional.”

By all accounts, the re-entry scholarship program has been an outstanding success since Osher gave the first $50,000 in 2006-07, followed by a second grant of $50,000 in 2007-08. “Osher has tapped a population that’s very deserving and can be very successful with little help,” Hayes said.

UCR’s Office of Undergraduate Education offers an array of programs and strategies aimed at supporting and increasing student success. The Office and the Dean of Students Office have partnered with others across campus to help re-entry students adjust to the campus, manage their finances, and find a balance between academic life and pressures of the everyday world.

Along with those who left school because they lacked money, raised families, became missionaries, or served in the military, Hayes said the re-entry success stories include:

• A student who left school to care for a sibling with brain cancer but returned later in life to achieve a 3.8 grade point average in electrical engineering;
• A student who was the first of 11 siblings and the first in the family to attend college and has been working toward a career in education;
• A student who had a child with a learning disability and is now seeking a career in special education.

“They really are an amazing group,” Hayes said. “They’re like gems on campus.” In January 2009 the Financial Aid Department expects to announce an application process for the newest round of scholarship funding.

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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