A New Hope

Rebecca Wilbur has been headed toward Pacific's College of Education for years.

First-year optometry student Rebecca Wilbur and freshman Celine Yip are among the countless Pacific students who come for more than an education they come for hope for a different future, for themselves, their families and their communities.

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And she signed up for Jefferson’s “middle college” program, a partnership with Portland Community College.

The program, optional when Yip was in school but now a part of the school’s success plan for all students, allows high-schoolers to earn college credits at the nearby Portland Community College even before graduation.

“It was very nice, very, very nice,” Yip said. “It would save me money, a lot of money. I wondered, ‘Why isn’t anyone taking advantage of this?’”

Still, the future looked uncertain when she started applying to colleges.

“I applied to Pacific at the suggestion of someone else. I wasn’t planning to go,” she said. “I had a feeling I wouldn’t get enough financial aid, the package wasn’t enough for housing and tuition.”

Then, her guidance counselor told her that Pacific was working with Jefferson to establish a new scholarship for students in the middle college program. Established last June, the scholarship provides full tuition, room, board and books for one graduate of the middle college program each year.

Yip became the first recipient.

As a freshman, she is relishing the chance to explore her options. She’s joined the dance team and helped a friend start a new art club on campus. She’s considering a major in social work and a minor in Chinese (somewhat ironically, as it was her first language — “I learned it first, but we forgot it as we grew up,” she said).

“So many people helped me,” she said of her journey to Pacific. “I know how lucky I was to have a free education.

“There are so many things available. I want to take advantage of everything.”