a closer look – grainger tools for tomorrow scholarship

(l to r) Rhonda Fensterer, market manager at Grainger's branch in Orlando, and Gabriella Johnson

(l to r) Rhonda Fensterer, market manager at Grainger’s branch in Orlando, and Gabriella Johnson

Scholarships are a step among the path. They help students to enroll, or stay enrolled, at Valencia. Another step along the path is completion. Through Valencia’s A.S. degree programs, learners are able to immediately join the workforce.

When we measure the college’s impact on our local community it is vital to remember that we provide training and tools that lead to a better workforce, which benefits all of us who work and live in Orange and Osceola counties, and even beyond.

It is this path, from scholarship to completion to workforce, which leads us to companies like W.W. Grainger Inc. (Grainger), North America’s leading broad line supplier of maintenance, repair and operating products, with expanding global operations.

We work closely with businesses like Grainger to make sure that we are graduating students with the highest level of ability, and from these partnerships we know there is a need in the workforce. Many businesses that rely on skilled workers report difficulty finding qualified individuals to fill open jobs. In fact, skilled trades have been the hardest segment of the workforce for employers to staff for the last three years, according to ManpowerGroup.

It seems that part of the challenge in finding trained workers comes from misperceptions of the skilled trade industry. To promote the innovation of careers in the industrial skilled trades, Grainger, in conjunction with the American Association of Community Colleges, launched the Grainger Tools for Tomorrow Scholarship for 129 students at 70 community colleges in the U.S., with one-half of the scholarships targeted to U.S. Armed Forces veterans. In addition to a $2,000 scholarship, each student receives a Westward tool-kit upon graduation to help jump start their career.

“Grainger is investing in the future industry and communities through the Grainger Tools for Tomorrow Scholarship program,” said Rhonda Fensterer, market manager at Grainger’s branch in Orlando. “We are proud to partner with Valencia College and believe business and college partnerships are one solution to building a stronger workforce.”

For consideration, Valencia students must be in their last year of study and in good standing to graduate from their technical education program in 2014. And we found a perfect fit with Gabriella Johnson, who is studying toward her A.S. in drafting and design technology.

She heard about the opportunity through a professor and was so surprised and grateful when she received the scholarship, as she had tried for other scholarships but never heard back.

She shares that the scholarship will help her take her last classes and keep her motivated to maintain good grades. She thinks scholarships are important because applying for scholarships helps one reflect on their goals and the level of motivation they have to pursue an education. And she says they help financially of course, alleviating the responsibility and worry of paying for classes. “Instead, said responsibility is focused on education outcomes and accomplishments.”

Gabriella was drawn to industrial trades because she is interested in the function of things. She enjoys learning how to create, work and improve machinery and design.

Her career aspirations are “to demonstrate creativity, commitment and quality in drafting.” She hopes to work in a career where designing skills are used to develop and innovate.

What a perfect addition to the trade, and it was all made possible through Grainger’s Tools for Tomorrow Scholarship. The foundation is ever thankful for these relationships, as they help so many students forge ahead on their own paths with an ultimate destination that makes the community stronger.

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