Chula VistaInterested in a White Alder, Torrey Pine, or Carolina Cherry tree? Southwestern College (SWC) has these and many other varieties for sale. And, for $1,000, you can own your very own tree at SWC. Well, not really.
What you can purchase, though, are elegant bronze plaques that will be placed adjacent to trees in a trail that winds through the walkways of the College campus. The plaques are part of the “Garden of Giving” scholarship campaign, established to create a botanical garden on campus and to help students in the School of Mathematics, Science, and Engineering (SMSE) pay for higher enrollment fees.
The help couldn’t have come at a better time. Student fees recently increased to $18 per unit and soon could be raised to $26.
“Given the fact that community college enrollment fees continue to rise, we must do everything we can to help our students continue their education, and in doing so, we’ll also be creating a botanical garden on our beautiful campus.” said Norma L. Hernández, Interim Superintendent/President for Southwestern College. Together with other SWC officials, students, faculty, and staff, Hernández today unveiled the first plaque, placed adjacent to a row of Maidenhair Trees in honor of the late Dr. Leroy Olson, former dean of SWC’s SMSE.
To date, sponsors have purchased eight of the more than 50 plaques available for sponsorship. Each contains the name of the species and a brief message in honor of the donor or other individual.
“The ‘Garden of Giving’ is a gift that will keep on giving,” said Kathy Tyner, Dean of the School of Mathematics, Science, and Engineering. “The income generated from the sale of the plaques will be placed in a special fund and the interest generated will be used for scholarships to help students pay for their education. The botanical garden will also serve as an educational tool for biology, landscape architecture, and nursery technology students,” added Tyner.
Southwestern College has one of the most beautiful campuses in the county. Many of the trees were donated by the faculty and staff when it was first built forty years ago.
“The trees, birds, and other beautiful plants and animals of our Southwestern College Campus have always been a source of inspiration and joy to many of us in the South Bay community,” said Biology Professor Terry Thomas, one of the first donors to this scholarship campaign. She purchased three plaques that will be placed next a Jacaranda, Hong Kong Orchid Tree, and Erythrina.
The “Garden of Giving” campaign, created in partnership with School of Mathematics, Science and Engineering, the Horticulture Department and the SWC Foundation, is one more effort from Southwestern College to increase the number of students who pursue and finish careers in math and science.
The United States has a real problem in the level of science and mathematics achievement among students. The problem is even more severe among minority and underrepresented groups.
For example, employment growth is expected to be particularly strong in the computer science fields, with a projected 69 percent job increase by the year 2010. Yet, between 1988 and 1998, there was a 22 percent decline in the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to students in this field.
“Science industry professionals are foreseeing a shortage of qualified personnel in careers involving math and science in the near future,” stated Tyner. “One way to address this growing concern is to show students that the science industry is an exciting field to get into and a career in science is an attainable goal.”
Five yearly scholarships will be available for students with majors in mathematics / computer science; biology / biotechnology; engineering; physical science; and horticulture. To qualify for a “Garden of Giving” scholarship, students must have completed 12-24 units, be enrolled in nine (9) or more units during the spring semester, and maintain a minimum 2.8 GPA.
To learn more on the “Garden of Giving” campaign or to contribute to this special scholarship fund, visit www.swc.cc.ca.us or contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at (619) 482-6426.