Lee College Foundation prepares to award fall 2017 scholarships, host annual gala

Foundation relies on individual & corporate donors to support hundreds of worthy students  

Lee College Foundation scholarship recipient Thomas Sweeney
Lee College Foundation scholarship recipient Thomas Sweeney speaks at the annual Foundation Scholarship Breakfast in April about the scholarship awards that enabled him to pursue higher education and enjoy an enriching and rewarding campus experience. All students at Lee College are eligible for foundation scholarships, which are funded through the generosity of private and corporate donors throughout the community.

BAYTOWN, TX — The fall 2017 semester begins next month and the Lee College Foundation is preparing to award scholarships to hundreds of deserving students both new to campus and returning to continue their journey to a degree or certificate.

Many scholarship recipients would be unable to afford tuition, textbooks and other essentials without the generosity of private and corporate donors throughout the community who give to the foundation. Nearly two dozen of the new scholarships to be awarded for 2017 were sponsored by individuals – families, alumni, former employees and friends of the college among them – who believe in the importance of higher education and want to support students in reaching their dreams.

“Individuals and businesses in this community have made life-altering changes for so many of our students by providing them with financial support,” said Pam Warford, executive director of Foundation and Resource Development. “Many students just don’t have the means to pay for college, or they work and go to school simultaneously. For their community college, these advocates for education have enabled students who have the ability and the desire to achieve a degree and create a better life for themselves and for their families. I am so grateful to each of them for their continued support.”

All Lee College students are eligible to receive scholarships, regardless of their program of study or enrollment status. The Foundation Board of Directors awarded more than $470,000 in the 2016-17 academic year to full-time and part-time students, high school students earning college credit in dual-enrollment classes, offenders in the Lee College Huntsville Center correctional education program, and students taking non-credit classes through the Center for Workforce and Community Development. In addition, the foundation maintains a Student Success Fund to help students facing extraordinary circumstances pay for college-related expenses.

Though a straight-A student throughout his career at Dayton High School, Thomas Sweeney arrived at the crossroads between high school and college unsure of which way to go. He knew he could succeed academically, but difficult family circumstances meant he was limited financially. Lee College was his choice for its affordability compared to other options, and he was ultimately awarded the foundation’s Rockwell Fund and Sam Bramlett Memorial scholarships.

“I was raised in a household where I didn’t really have a whole lot of opportunities,” said Sweeney, who shared his story in April at the annual Foundation Scholarship Breakfast, just one semester away from graduation. “My dad worked a job that he didn’t particularly care for and he wasn’t in the best of health, but he persevered because he saw the value of education. That’s why he pushed my sister and I really hard in school to be successful.”

After taking several Lee College Honors Program courses and becoming involved in student organizations on campus, Sweeney was selected to present original research at two academic conferences and said he gained a greater appreciation for thinking critically about the world around him. His “enriching and self-fulfilling experience” in college would likely have been unattainable without foundation support.

“I can honestly say these generous scholarships took quite the weight off my shoulders,” Sweeney said. “It was a very rewarding experience to have my hard work receive recognition so I could continue my educational career with the peace of mind of having my financial needs taken care of. The foundation donors and board have my sincerest and deepest appreciation and respect for their generosity in allowing students like myself, and many other diverse students, the ability to achieve our goals and ambitions.”

Planning is now underway for the 32nd annual Lee College Foundation Gala, which benefits student scholarships and other forms of support. For more information about the gala or giving to the foundation, contact Warford at 281.425.6361 or pwarford@lee.edu.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Foundation brings donors together with scholarship recipients

Six people posing, both donors and student recipients
Donors to the Lee College Foundation met the recipients of their scholarships Friday, April 7, 2017, at the 15th annual Foundation Scholarship Breakfast. The annual gathering allows students to share with donors how their generosity has made a difference. Pictured from left: Louise Mann, donor; Drake Salinas, student; Nancy Mann, donor; Denia Aleman, student; Michael Mann, donor; and Claudia Wyles, representing corporate donor Community Resource Credit Union.

For the individuals and businesses that donate to the Lee College Foundation, there is no greater proof of the positive impact of their generosity than meeting and hearing the stories of students awarded tuition and textbook scholarships.

Students like Maryori Portillo, a first-generation college student and recipient of the Wallace Heaner Tuition Scholarship and John and Stella Pepper Textbook Scholarship who had children at a young age and dropped out of high school. After earning her GED and experiencing difficulties in her first try at higher education, Portillo came to Lee College and enrolled in two classes: English and speech. Instructors recognized she had special talent, but the cost of out-of-district tuition and other expenses nearly forced her to quit school after just one semester.

“They immediately saw potential in me that I didn’t see in myself and introduced me to the Honors Program,” Portillo shared April 7 at the 15th annual Foundation Scholarship Breakfast, where donors connected with scholarship recipients and learned firsthand how the funds made a difference in their lives.

“Thanks to the scholarships, I was able to return to school,” she said. “I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to go to sleep without college tuition keeping you up at night. It’s a weight lifted off your shoulders and a worry gone. I would not be standing here without your help.”

Or students like Audra Smith, a process technology major and intern at Chevron Phillips Chemical who received a workforce scholarship from the East Harris County Manufacturers Association (EHCMA). EHCMA donated $170,000 to Lee College this year for student scholarships and other support for craft and technology programs.

A donor and two students stand and pose.
The Lee College Foundation hosted a reception Tuesday, March 28, 2017, for students who received workforce scholarships from the East Harris County Manufacturers Association (EHCMA) to meet managers and other personnel from the association’s member companies. EHCMA donated $170,000 to Lee College this year for student scholarships and other support for craft and technology programs. Pictured (l-r): Jarvis Booker, student; Bear Estrada of Ohmstede; and Tevin Goodman, student.

Just before she started classes, Smith lost her home to a fire and learned her mother had been diagnosed with cancer. Four months into the program, her mother passed away – and soon after, so did her father and grandfather. Knowing she would not have to worry about paying for school helped her persist in the program despite her losses, determined to earn her degree and keep the promises she made to herself and her family.

“Workforce scholarships help us, as students, achieve our greatness,” Smith told managers and leaders from EHCMA’s member companies in late March at a student and donor networking reception hosted by the foundation. “By donating money for these scholarships, you all are changing lives every day.”

Under the leadership of its Board of Directors, the Lee College Foundation has raised outside funds since 1968 to provide for student needs. The fund balance for the foundation now exceeds $10 million and all students are eligible to receive scholarships — those pursuing academic and technical degrees, as well as those enrolled full-time, part-time, in dual-credit classes for high-school students to earn college credits, in non-credit classes offered by the Center for Workforce and Community Development, and in the Lee College Huntsville Center prison program.

Although the foundation has historically focused on accepting scholarship funds, board members consider other worthwhile initiatives that directly affect student success and promote the student’s ability to reach their education goals. To that end, tax-deductible contributions from industry and private donors also support the Student Success Fund, created to help those facing extraordinary circumstances pay for college-related expenses that might otherwise derail their journey.

“One of the most heartwarming things about Lee College is knowing how much this community loves this institution,” said Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown. “The consistent outpouring of generosity helps ensure students can do the three most important things: enroll, persist and graduate. We want them to get here, stay here and leave here with a degree.”

For more information about donating to the Lee College Foundation, contact Executive Director  Pam Warford at 281.425.6361 or pwarford@lee.edu.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee College recognizes ExxonMobil for long partnership & generous contributions

College received more than $258,000 this year to support academics and student success

ExxonMobil Lunch
From left: Marsha Tuha, Interim Director of Corporate Services at Lee College; Debi Jordan, Executive Director of the Center for Workforce and Community Development at Lee College; Wayne Gray, Lee College Board of Regents; Brian Nagle of ExxonMobil; Woody Paul, Manager of the ExxonMobil Baytown Olefins Plant; Ronn Haddox, Chairman of the Lee College Board of Regents; Pete Alfaro, Lee College Board of Regents; Layton Childress, Dean of Applied Sciences at Lee College; Mark Himsel, Lee College Board of Regents; Dr. Carolyn Lightfoot, Chief Information Officer at Lee College; Dr. Christina Ponce, Vice President of Student Success, Workforce and Resource Development at Lee College; and Dr. Dennis Brown, Lee College President.
ExxonMobil Lunch
From left: Woody Paul, Manager of the ExxonMobil Baytown Olefins Plant; Joe Whiddon of ExxonMobil; Connie Whiddon; Brian Nagle of ExxonMobil; Wayne Gray, Lee College Board of Regents; Ronn Haddox, Chairman of the Lee College Board of Regents; Pete Alfaro, Lee College Board of Regents; Mark Himsel, Lee College Board of Regents; Dr. Donnetta Suchon, Vice President of Student Affairs at Lee College; Pam Warford, Executive Director of the Lee College Foundation; and Dr. Dennis Brown, Lee College President.
ExxonMobil Lunch
From left: Debi Jordan, Executive Director of the Center for Workforce and Community Development at Lee College; Brian Nagle of ExxonMobil; Woody Paul, Manager of the ExxonMobil Baytown Olefins Plant; Wayne Gray, Lee College Board of Regents; Ronn Haddox, Chairman of the Lee College Board of Regents; Pete Alfaro, Lee College Board of Regents; Dr. Michael Fleming, Executive Director of Institutional Planning, Effectiveness and Research at Lee College; Marisela Morales, Lee College student; Mark Himsel, Lee College Board of Regents; Ellis Dorrance, Lee College student; Kelly Dando, ExxonMobil Grant Project Coordinator at Lee College; and Dr. Dennis Brown, Lee College President.

BAYTOWN, TX — Leaders from Lee College and ExxonMobil recently came together to celebrate more than 80 years of successful partnership, and recognize the company for contributing more than $258,000 this year to academic programs and student success initiatives that prepare students for long-lasting and well-paying careers in a growing industry.

ExxonMobil presented the college with three donation checks at a special luncheon held Friday, July 22, on the third floor of the Advanced Technology Center: $15,000 for the EnergyVenture summer camp hosted by the Center for Workforce and Community Development that gives middle school students the chance to explore energy industry careers; $118,500 in ExxonMobil Foundation educational matching funds that will be used for student success efforts; and $125,000 for technician training programs like process technology and instrumentation.

ExxonMobil’s investment in Lee College is vital to students who would otherwise be unable to afford tuition or other expenses without additional resources, said Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown. The difficulty of balancing the rigor of technical programs with work, family and other responsibilities is an obstacle that prevents many from completing their chosen degree or certificate.

“What you do for us, in so many ways, makes such a difference to so many students,” Brown said. “These students are training for lifetime careers that can help them create a better and brighter future for themselves and their families.”

Lee College administrators also noted that ExxonMobil’s support extends beyond the financial. The company offers students internships that give them practical work experience before graduation, and regularly sends its employees to campus to share insights and expertise with both students and faculty.

ExxonMobil has also hosted pre-employment testing on campus, and helps the college to build a pipeline of future skilled workers by participating in programs and activities designed to give K-12 students an early introduction to opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“We owe ExxonMobil so much for giving back to the community,” said Layton Childress, dean of Applied Sciences. “Our goal is to take what you’ve given us and expand on it.”

Woody Paul, manager of the ExxonMobil Baytown Olefins Plant, said the company is proud of its longstanding relationship with Lee College and happy to invest in an institution centered on providing the high-quality education that its future employees will need to be successful.

“The passion, effort and caring that Lee College provides to its students is so effective,” Paul said. “You are equipping students to be successful in today’s world, and you are invaluable to us.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

EHCMA donates $140K for scholarships and support

BAYTOWN, TX – Students pursuing technical programs of study at Lee College now have additional money to help fund their education after the East Harris County Manufacturers Association (EHCMA) donated $140,000 for scholarships and other academic support.

ECHMA presentation to Regents
Todd Monette, outgoing Board Chairman for the East Harris County Manufacturers Association (EHCMA), signs a $140,000 donation check Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, at the regular meeting of the Lee College Board of Regents. The association raised the money at its second annual golf tournament to provide scholarships and support for students in technical programs. Also pictured (l-r) are Pam Warford, Executive Director of the Lee College Foundation; Craig Beskid, EHCMA Executive Director; Monty Heins, incoming EHCMA Board Chairman; Roy Watson, Chairman of the EHCMA Workforce Development Committee; and Ronn Haddox, Chairman of the Lee College Board of Regents.

EHCMA Executive Director Craig Beskid, outgoing Board Chairman Todd Monette, incoming Board Chairman Monty Heins and Workforce Development Committee Chairman Roy Watson presented the donation check Thursday, Dec. 17, at the regular meeting of the Lee College Board of Regents.

The money was raised at the second annual EHCMA Workforce Development Golf Tournament in November, in which more than 35 teams from more than 70 companies in the manufacturing and construction industries participated this year. Proceeds from the tournament exceed the association’s goals, and were divided between Lee and San Jacinto College.

“This funding will have a positive impact on the availability of programs that provide the skills and certifications needed for students within the surrounding communities to enter into the petrochemical and manufacturing workforce,” said Monette, manager of the LyondellBasell Channelview Chemical Complex and featured speaker at the Lee College Fall 2015 Commencement Ceremony. “This golf tournament is one of the many ways EHCMA brings our community together to support the growth of the Houston workforce and provide opportunities for our community.”

EHCMA focuses heavily on the workforce development issues facing the industry and sponsors numerous initiatives to create opportunities for local students to access skilled education programs, particularly focused on successful petrochemical or manufacturing careers.

“Finances are one of the main barriers that our students have to completing their degrees,” said Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown. “These scholarship dollars mean a lot in terms of our students’ ability to really finish what they start. To have industry step forward and provide this kind of an opportunity is amazing.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby Liberty, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 13 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee College student groups collecting holiday donations for family, veterans in need

BAYTOWN, TX – As they wrap up the fall 2015 semester and prepare for winter break, students at Lee College are looking to spread the holiday spirit by collecting donations to help those in need in the local community.
Reaching Excellence Against Limitations (REAL), a new student organization that aims to educate and empower black males by enhancing their skills and creating positive change, has adopted a Baytown family for its inaugural Family First fundraising campaign – launched this year by group president, Runnin’ Rebel Basketball player and Baytown native Javonte Cooper.

REAL is soliciting monetary donations that will be placed on a grocery store gift card and given to a single mother and her three children to ensure they can experience the full joy of a holiday meal, from shopping for ingredients to cooking and sharing quality time together. To make a donation on campus in room 233 of the Huddle Building or schedule a pick-up, contact adviser Jessica Falla at 281.425.6421 or jfalla@lee.edu.

Keeping in mind their promise as military service members to leave no one behind, the Student-Veterans of Lee College (SVLC) are accepting donations to be given to veterans in hospice care at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston. The group has decided to make helping and visiting veterans in hospice – estimated to total more than 1.5 million nationwide – a priority of their community outreach.

SVLC is looking for a wide variety of items, including travel-sized toiletries; reading materials and stationary; new and gently used clothing and hats for men and women; undergarments in unopened packages; socks; bedding; phone cards; and entertainment and leisure items like puzzles, board games, video games and DVDs. For more information about the items needed and how to donate, contact the Lee College Veterans Center at 832.556.4300.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby Liberty, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 13 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.