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Students receive thousands in scholarships from Desert Financial Foundation

Posted 5/29/24

Desert Financial Foundation announced $192,000 in college scholarships to 60 Arizona students.

The scholarship program includes Community Service Scholarships for high school seniors who …

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Students receive thousands in scholarships from Desert Financial Foundation


Desert Financial Foundation announced $192,000 in college scholarships to 60 Arizona students.

The scholarship program includes Community Service Scholarships for high school seniors who volunteer in their communities and Adult Learners Scholarships for adults ages 25 or older who are pursuing certificates or degrees. Nearly 250 Arizona students applied for the 60 available scholarships, according to a press release.

“We are proud to have given away more than $1 million in scholarships to high school seniors and adult learners in the past eight years,” Jeff Meshey, Desert Financial Foundation vice-chair, said in the release. “An educated workforce increases economic opportunity for everyone in our community — which is why supporting education has been a top priority at Desert Financial since its founding 85 years ago.”

Sydney Swanson, from Arizona Agribusiness and Equine Center in Paradise Valley, received one of 30 $3,000 Community Service Scholarship from the Desert Financial Foundation this month. She plans to study medicine at the University of Arizona.

In addition, Scottsdale resident Meredith Jaxon received a $3,000 Adult Learners Scholarship from Desert Financial. She is studying technological entrepreneurship and management at Arizona State University – Polytechnic. Jaxon received one of 30 Adult Learners Scholarships handed out by Desert Financial.

Community Service Scholarships

Thirty high school seniors were awarded a total of $96,000 in Community Service Scholarships. More than 80 students, who completed a minimum of 50 hours of community service last year, applied for the scholarships.

Three students stood out from the rest to receive the top $5,000 scholarship. They include:

  • Yaretzi Ortiz, of Tolleson Union High School in Tolleson
  • Trevor Schuhrke, of Basha High School in Chandler
  • Ashley Thompson, of Dobson High School in Mesa

The remaining recipients each received $3,000 scholarships.

“Engaging in community service activities has enriched my life in numerous ways and has shaped my character and values,” said Ortiz, who volunteered more than 775 hours in 2023. “I’ve developed skills that will be needed for the rest of my life including leadership, communication and organizational skills.”

In addition to completing the minimum 50 hours of community service, students were required to maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average, enroll in an Arizona college or university for the Fall 2024 semester, demonstrate financial need and be, or be related to, a Desert Financial member to be eligible for the scholarships.

Combined, the community service scholarship recipients provided more than 4,100 hours of community service in 2023.

Adult Learners Scholarships

Of the nearly 160 applicants who applied for the Adult Learners Scholarship, 27 were selected to receive $3,000 scholarships. Three additional scholarship recipients were randomly selected for $5,000 awards. A total of $96,000 was given to the 30 recipients.

The adult learners who received $5,000 scholarships include:

  • Andrew Cochran of San Tan Valley
  • Timothy Kilcoyne of Phoenix
  • Joshua Walker of Glendale

To qualify for the scholarship, applicants must be aged 25 years or older; currently enrolled in or intending to enroll in an accredited Arizona college, university or certification program; and be a current member of Desert Financial Credit Union.

“Being a newly single mother of four, continuing my education to provide a better life financially for my children is difficult,” said Cassandra Melendez of Glendale who is studying to be a nurse. “This scholarship will help take off some of the stress of having to pick up extra shifts to make ends meet for tuition costs.”

In addition to the scholarships, each recipient received a bag of gifts from the credit union, including an iPad, iPad case, Apple Pencil, snacks and other school supplies, to prepare them for their higher education experience.

The recipients celebrated their awards during the 2024 Desert Financial Foundation Scholarship Ceremony at Chateau Luxe in Phoenix on May 15.

Desert Financial Foundation has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships since it first launched in 2015, with the goal of supporting students seeking to better their lives and financial situations through education.

To learn more about Desert Financial Foundation scholarship programs, visit DesertFinancial.com/Scholarships.