When Stacy Gray’s grandfather was stricken with a mysterious neurological condition that left him dependent on others for his day-to-day care, the teenager took it upon herself to acquire Personal Care Assistant training that would allow her to help him with daily activities requiring basic motor skills. Since then, Stacy has gone on to acquire Certified Nursing Assistant training and works part-time at the Brendan House, in addition to holding down a full course load at Flathead Valley Community College.
The 4.0 student and class valedictorian from Hot Springs High School says she has always known in her heart that she was destined for a career that would allow her to help people both physically and emotionally. At FVCC, Stacy is completing pre-requisite courses so that she can transfer to the University of Montana’s Health and Human Performance program in two years. After she earns a bachelor’s degree at UM, she intends to apply to physical therapy school.
Stacy is one of hundreds of students at FVCC who is able to pursue a college education thanks to scholarships. Last spring, Stacy learned that she had been chosen as a recipient of the FVCC Foundation’s prestigious Transformation Scholarship. In her scholarship essay, Stacy wrote, “Living with a single parent and a disabled grandparent means that I am in need of financial support to fulfill my career goals and the plans I have for my future. Getting the college education that I am striving for means that I will eventually be able to help my grandpa and many others like him in more ways than I am capable of doing right now.”
Wise beyond her years, Stacy understands that achieving her dream of becoming a physical therapist will be expensive. Traditional Doctorate of Physical Therapy programs require an additional 30 to 36 months of school after completing a four-year bachelor’s degree.
“Because of the scholarships I have received, I am able to put almost my entire paycheck into a savings account for physical therapy school,” Stacy said.
Last year, the FVCC Foundation awarded $300,000 in scholarships to students like Stacy thanks to the generosity of community members and local businesses who participated in the annual Festival of Flavors. Now in its 11th year, the Festival of Flavors is a series of community events that showcases some of the best food, wine and brews in the Flathead Valley while supporting student scholarships, innovative educational projects, and student travel to national conferences.