Photo caption: Kalamazoo Valley Community College alums Steve and Nancee Hofmeister are lightening the load of non-traditional students with their full-tuition scholarship.
As part of Community College Month in April, Kalamazoo Valley Community College celebrates an alumni couple who are making the dream of a college education come true for non-traditional students.
Former Kalamazoo Valley students, Steve and Nancee Hofmeister, established the NovaSTAR Scholarship in 2015 to assist non-traditional students with full tuition. Many of Valley’s more than 300,000 graduates juggled jobs, families and more while enrolled.
Steve graduated from high school in 1975. After many attempts at higher education, he received his bachelor’s degree in 2000 with nearly 200 credit hours in multiple majors from various schools. He calls it the “25-year degree program.” During those 25 years, Steve worked mostly in sales. After earning his degree and teaching certificate, Steve taught for 11 years at Parchment School District.
Nancee attended Kalamazoo Valley from 1988-1992, taking prerequisite classes in preparation for her bachelor of science in nursing degree. Since graduating from the Bronson School of Nursing in 1982, she has worked as a registered nurse and held many positions over the course of her career, including neonatal intensive care nurse, operating room nurse, department manager, home care nurse, case management nurse, special projects coordinator, director, senior vice president/chief nursing officer, and now as a part-time case management nurse and clinical instructor for the Bronson School of Nursing.
‘A gift worth giving’
Steve and Nancee believe so strongly in the power of higher education and appreciate the tremendous value community colleges offer, that they encourage others who have benefited from similar experiences, or succeeded financially in their own endeavors, to consider funding a scholarship of their own.
“The satisfaction we receive by helping others is abundantly gratifying,” Steve said. “Partnering financially with someone who might otherwise not be able to achieve their dreams and full potential is undeniably a gift worth giving.”
As non-traditional students raising a family while working, Steve and Nancee were thankful to find assistance through Kalamazoo Valley’s financial aid office just when they needed it most. Specifically, it was Sue Newington who guided them through the financial aid process by connecting them with grants and scholarships for which they qualified. This softened the financial edge at a time when the household budget was often a balancing act on a tightrope.
“Having benefited from the generosity of others and believing community colleges provide the most educational bang for the buck, we pledged an annual gift to the KVCC Foundation that would be the most meaningful and impactful. An education is something that can never be taken away, and knowledge is empowering if utilized,” Steve said.
“College, especially a four-year college, isn’t necessarily for everyone, but the community college experience is relatively attainable for most. Studies show that education beyond high school provides a competitive advantage in realizing desirable employment, a meaningful living, and higher earnings potential. Kalamazoo Valley classes and degrees can benefit almost anyone, whether it be for advanced knowledge in a technical career, an opportunity to reset, or a springboard to an advanced degree. It is never too late to start, restart, or continue one’s learning journey.”
Information about Community College Month and Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s special activities can be found at kvcc.edu/ccmonth. To learn about donating to or creating a scholarship through the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Foundation, visit kvcc.edu/foundation.
Established in 1966, Kalamazoo Valley offers certificate programs in more than 50 areas of study and associate degrees in 60 others. These include business, healthcare, human and public service, and technical occupations, culinary arts and brewing training. It has four Kalamazoo, Mich., locations, including the Texas Township Campus, the Groves Campus, the Arcadia Commons Campus and the Bronson Healthy Living Campus. Classes are available during the day, evening, online and weekends. More details are at kvcc.edu.