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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

College scholarships are a financial blessing to Business Administration student

June 15, 2015
Business Administration student Codilee Merrill
Codi and her grandma, Lee, celebrate a big moment in Codi’s life.

Codilee Merrill was paying close attention during SJVC Ontario‘s New Student Orientation when the subject of scholarships came up. She was surprised that there were so many available to students who, with a little time, effort and a reasonable GPA, could easily qualify for this unexpected financial boost.

“I knew that I needed something that would help me financially, especially since I’m not working now,” says Codi. “Scholarships were free money that I don’t have to pay it back, like debts with interest.” It would also take some of the burden of her Business Administration program costs off Johnny, Codi’s husband of 8 months, who works full-time as a nurse.

So far, Codi has applied for 13 scholarships and has already been granted $3,000; $1,000 from each of three providers. “It was really easy,” she says. “Most of the time, I just have to watch a video, then answer questions about it and pass the survey.” Sometimes a short essay is required.

Codi is excited at the prospect of receiving up to $13,000 in scholarships. “That would pay off all my loans to go to SJVC,” she says. “You just have to keep track of what you are applying for and their scholarship requirements.”

College almost did not even happen for Codi. At 21 years old, she had worked for over three years as Operations Manager for a solar company. When she and Johnny got married, he encouraged her to go back to school. But, Codi had no idea at all what she wanted to do with her life or what kind of a career might fulfill her talents and interests.

“I thought I wanted to be a wedding planner, then dental assistant, and went to all of these schools to see what I wanted to be,” says Codilee. “The first time I went to SJVC, I made up my mind within 10 minutes of walking into the school. This was the school I had to go to.”

She called Johnny right then. “I told him that this is what I want to do. He has been so supportive and encouraging; he is my best friend.”

It was the teacher-to-student ratio, the hands-on education model and the warm interaction between instructors and students that really got her attention.

“I’m a real visual person, so I have to ask about 10 million questions to understand something,” says Codi. “Mr. John Scott is the best teacher I have ever had in my whole life. I leave his classroom every day and remember every single thing he taught because of how interactive he is with us.”

Codilee made a great start in her program, earning a 4.0 GPA, and still found time to continue mentoring seven young girls in her church’s Decision Counseling program, as she had for the two previous years.

“Codi’s positive attitude in class and on campus has already been noticed in the short time she has been here,” says Lindsay Fotia, Dean of Student Services. “I am looking forward to watching her grow even more throughout her Business Administration program.”

During her third module, Codi suffered a huge personal set-back when she miscarried at the end of her first trimester. “I missed a week of school, but Mr. Kramer (instructor) was so supportive and let me make up homework. He made sure I was successful, and I ended up passing my Microsoft exam and got my certification.”

Codi was not sure what impact her loss and absence from school might have. She found new strength. “I was so supported by the school, classmates and teachers who helped me get through it and not feel like the whole world was crashing down in a moment.”

Codi always has Johnny and her beloved grandmother, Lee, to help her through anything life brings.

“I was adopted by my grandma when I was 3 years old,” says Codi. “My mom was involved in my life off-and-on, so it was hard to have a stable relationship with her. But, she loves me in the best way that she emotionally can.”

Lee has been her rock through the years. “Every decision I make, I talk with my grandma first,” says Codi. When Codi was deciding about going to college, “Grandma said, ‘If you’re going to go to school, you have to go to school with your full potential.'”

Grandma Lee was not wrong.

Codilee, who wants to get her Bachelor’s Degree in Health Administration, sees her future stretching out before her. “I see myself working in a Human Resources office for Kaiser Permanente some day,” she says. “I know I will.”

No one doubts her.


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