Chet Burton: Scholarships are an investment in the future

Western Nevada College President Chet Burton poses on the Carson campus.

Western Nevada College President Chet Burton poses on the Carson campus.

Last week, the Western Nevada College Foundation awarded more than $150,000 in scholarships to 125 deserving WNC students.

For more than 20 years, the WNC Foundation has developed partnerships with our community to support the efforts of WNC to provide Nevada with a skilled and educated workforce as well as to bind the community and the college together to shape the educational and economic future of Northern Nevada.

The foundation raises scholarship funds through employee giving initiatives, special events and campaigns, and solicitations from individual, corporate and private foundation donors. Without the foundation and its Board of Directors, these scholarships would not be possible, and many students would be unable to continue their educations due to financial hardship.

In the financial world, return on investment is a term that usually refers to investments in stocks, bonds and commodities. In the educational world, college is the best possible investment individuals can make in themselves. Recent research shows a high school graduate can hope to earn around $1 million throughout the course of his or her career, while college graduates earn approximately $2.4 million over their work life.

Think about it. From a purely financial standpoint, the return on a college education will net more than $1 million in income in your lifetime.

But what about our donors? What’s the return on investment for giving scholarships? Aside from the obvious tax incentives on donations, there are many ways our donors benefit from providing scholarships to students.

Naming rights — what better way to honor a loved one than to name the gift of education for a young person just starting out? Many of our scholarships are given in fond memory, like the Jack L. Davis Memorial Scholarship donated in his honor by the medical staff at Carson Tahoe Health.

Candidate selection — while donors may only have a minority vote in recipient selection, scholarships may be offered to students who meet certain criteria, like the NV Energy Foundation Scholarship, which recognizes students who have demonstrated leadership in academics and community service.

Furthering your interests in a course of study — students pursuing degrees in certain fields, like the Woody Wurster Machine Tool scholarship, contribute to and advance the field.

Relationships with student recipients — many of our students continue to correspond with their scholarship donors beyond the scholarship period, fostering lifetime relationships with someone who believes in and supports their educations.

Scholarships are a win-win proposition any way you look at it. Students, donors and our community benefit from a shared belief in the value of education and we are collectively investing in the future of our region and state.

Chet Burton is president of Western Nevada College.


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