When Shayla Skipp lost her husband three years ago to lymphoma, she said the only thing that kept her going were her three children and her commitment to pursuing higher education.
Today, she takes classes at SUNY Oswego's Syracuse campus part-time with a goal of earning a bachelor's in human development in 2020 while juggling the responsibilities of a single mother.
Skipp is also one of two recipients of a new scholarship established by Visions Federal Credit Union. The scholarship provides $500 each semester to two part-time students at the Syracuse campus with a financial need.
"This scholarship will allow me to have less tuition cost so that I can purchase a laptop for my online courses, books, school supplies, child-care and aid in the help of transportation to and from school," Skipp said.
The other Visions Federal Credit Union scholarship recipient is Casey Stewart of Syracuse, who is majoring in business administration. Stewart currently works as a lead at Spectrum Community Solutions and hopes to move into human resource management eventually.
"Our hope in creating this scholarship was to empower non-traditional, independent students to stay the course and earn their bachelor's degrees," said Tim Strong, community development manager for Visions Federal Credit Union. "We consider ourselves part of this community, and as a credit union, believe in the "people helping people' philosophy. We're happy to be able to provide this scholarship to deserving, hard-working members of our community who are looking to better themselves through education."
Stewart said in addition to the financial support, the scholarship also serves as motivation to strive harder.
"It means so much to me to know that my community supports me going back to school to get my bachelor's degree," she said. "I know how much education is worth, and to know that Visions supports someone like me to go back to school means the world to me. I will give everything I have in each class I take toward this degree."
Jill Pippin, dean of the college's Division of Extended Learning, which manages the Syracuse campus, said she is particularly grateful that Visions is supporting part-time, non-traditional students through their new scholarship.
"These students not only must submit to the rigors of their academic program, but they juggle competing demands of work and personal life. This scholarship means so much more than money; it reduces one of the many roadblocks that adult learners have and enables them to pursue and attain their higher education goals," Pippin said.
"Navigating the path toward higher education isn't easy. Providing this support lightens the burden on someone focused on continuing their education and gives them the encouragement to persevere," said Pippin, who is a 1995 SUNY Oswego graduate. "Our college community is thankful to have a partner in Visions who understands this and who has directed resources to help these eager students achieve their educational goals."