Having the opportunity to pursue a dream is what graduate student and ASU employee, Cherish Connolly, values the most when it comes to scholarships. She experienced numerous obstacles leading up to her ASU undergraduate experience, but Cherish’s family association scholarship helped her achieve what she had always hoped. Three months after graduation, she found an opportunity that allowed her to donate $1,000 to the program.
Cherish’s dream to attend ASU was inspired by her father, who instilled in her the importance of education and constantly encouraged her by saying, “Go to college, no matter what.” Her father’s support helped Cherish attend Northland Pioneer College in 1992 after graduating from high school, even when her advisor said her SAT scores would never get her into higher education.
Cherish continued on at Eastern Arizona College until financial difficulties forced her to return home after the semester ended. She persevered and attended a different community college while working full time. On the brink of graduating with an associate degree in animal science, her degree was denied when an advisor refused to sign off on her last course.
“I know what it’s like to have nothing,” Cherish says. “Those experiences made my life what it is today.”
Cherish married and was raising three children when an advertisement about the Nina Mason Pulliam scholarship in a newspaper drew her attention. Following an application and interview process, she was awarded the scholarship, and her dream of becoming an ASU student came true.
Cherish’s husband’s work hours and pay were cut by 40 percent in 2008 which forced her to seek additional financial help for herself and her family. The family association scholarship allowed her to stay in school and continue her dream of getting an ASU education.
Cherish graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and minors in both religion and communications. She is currently employed at ASU’s Center for Off-Campus & Commuter Student Services while she is working on her master’s degree in science and technology policy at ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
“I feel like I won the lottery,” Cherish says. “I’m super, incredibly grateful.”
Compelled by the generosity of those that made the scholarship possible, Cherish and a co-worker raised $500 each for the Arizona Community Foundation and designated the family association as the beneficiary of those funds. Her hope is that it will give one more student an opportunity to pursue their dream as well.
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