Due to a a new donation of $100,000 to be spread over four years, the continuing support of Herman Miller through Herman Miller Cares matching scholarship funding – and the continuing donations of almost 100 other donors, the Holland/Zeeland Promise was able to offer eight new scholarships!

2016, Holland/Zeeland Promise Students

This sets a record number of scholarships offered for the HZ Promise, which first offered scholarships in 2010. These scholarships cover (after other grants and scholarships) all the student’s expenses for tuition, room and board and books until they graduate.

Meet our 2016 recipients

Three from Holland High School –

  • David, who will be attending Michigan State University in the fall and hopes to major in Computer Science and pursue a profession in Web and Game Development.
  • Kariana will head to Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan where she hopes to major in English and later enter the school of Education.
  • Tanya who has already headed to Ann Arbor for the University of Michigan’s Summer Bridge program. A wonderful way for  – in her case – first generation students to ease into the rigors of college life. Her goal is to pursue a career as a Pharmacist.

Three from West Ottawa High School –

  • Eric, who will attend Michigan State University, and dreams of being a doctor.
  • Julian, who will attend Hope College in Holland, Michigan where he intends to major in Psychology and minor in Spanish. His career goal is to be a family therapist.
  • Ivan, who heads to Grand Valley State University seeking a degree in Electrical Engineering.

Two from each of Zeeland’s two public high schools, East and West –

  • Rodrigo, a graduate of Zeeland East, who will attend Hope College and dreams of becoming a teacher.
  • Yol, who will attend Grand Valley State Univeristy with a goal of obtaining a nursing degree.

We say to our students that we “promise” a side-by-side relationship with each of them. And by that we meant a promise of continual support – whether directing them to their school’s resources or connecting them at time even with donors expertise – in order to see them through to graduation and a first job opportunity or the next leg in their education.

And we’re also thrilled to report our three most recent graduates! Bringing to seven the number of Promise students who have graduated. 

We are continuing to meet our goal of a 90% graduation rate!  Well beyond the less than 50% average graduation rate for students who start post-secondary education.

  • Cynthia Bustillos graduated from Grand Valley University with a degree in Criminal Justice.  We are delighted to report that she is now employed by Spectrum Health in their Security Department as a Security Officer. This position could lead to other opportunities as a Security Officer or serve as the experience she needs to pursue a position with County Probation opportunities.
  • Dave Tran has graduated from Michigan State with an Applied Engineering degree and has been hired by the car manufacturer Toyota. He is currently living and working in the Ann Arbor area.
  • Laura Zavala graduated from Hope College with a sociology degree and has entered graduate school at Grand Valley University in order to pursue a Masters in Sociology.

The Holland/Zeeland Promise differs from an “endowed” scholarship program in that we immediately disperse donated funds via the Community Foundation of Holland/Zeeland. Though we keep a small amount in reserve with the Foundation in order to be ready for unexpected mid-year costs or summer school needs.

This year the Holland Zeeland Promise was able to disperse almost $185,000 in order to continue supporting 10 students and offer the additional 8 scholarships – for a total of 18 current Promise students.

We want our students to graduate without incurring crushing student loan debt. And we want to offer those for whom the financial challenge is great, what many of us were able to offer our own children.

But the greater dream is that one day all our students will be able to graduate without crushing student debt as students of a generation ago were able to do.

Our goal is is to do what parents of the 19th century did. Realizing their children needed more education in order to qualify for jobs in the new industrial age they formed a grass roots movement to make K-12 education universal, available to all. It seemed an impossible dream at the time. But today we assume it’s a right not a privilege.

Now – in the 21st century – it is college or technical training that is critical. Our hope is that the HZ Promise will be part of a growing grass roots movement to find ways of sparing our children crushing student debt. Enabling them to live into the American Dream as many of us did.

It’s a vision, it’s a promise – and it’s happening.

Congratulations new recipients and new graduates!  Yes you can!  And yes you did!