Scholarships Help Student Return to Campus
Growing up, Kassie Tarpley ’23 didn’t think she would attend college.
The youngest of six siblings, she grew up in a small town on the island of Hawai‘i. After high school, Tarpley planned on working in the hotel industry like her siblings. That plan changed in eighth grade, when a teacher opened her eyes to the endless possibilities that higher education could provide.
She met “Uncle Jeff” Grundon ’80 as he was recruiting at her high school. Over the next few years, he encouraged for her to consider Pacific. Tarpley enrolled at Pacific as a freshman in the fall of 2019. Along with the personal outreach, a deciding factor for her was the large population of students from Hawai‘i at Pacific.
“I think that one-on-one connection with the outreach program was so beneficial to me,” Tarpley said, “because there are so many colleges and I’m just one person, so it made me feel really special.”
Tarpley is majoring in education and learning in the College of Education and plans to return to Hawai‘i to teach after graduation.
“I can’t see myself teaching somewhere else that’s not in my community, because I need to give back somehow,” she said passionately. “I feel like going home and being a homegrown teacher is how I’m going to give back to my community. I’m going to help grow the community that grew me.”
The first in her family to go to college, scholarships were necessary to help Tarpley cover the cost of tuition. She also works at three on-campus jobs for extra income.
When campus shut down in spring of 2020 due to COVID-19, she moved back home to finish the school year. As the start of sophomore year approached, Tarpley didn't think she could afford to return to campus. Then she received two new scholarships: the Lee Ann Prielipp Education Endowed Scholarship and the Vandervelden Endowed Scholarship. These two scholarships covered the cost of her on-campus housing and her spring semester tuition, and they allowed her to return to Oregon for the academic year.
“I’m so grateful,” Tarpley emphasized. “I have shed so many tears with my mom when I get scholarships, because we’re just so grateful. It means so much.”
She wonders if donors actually “realize how much they’re helping out and where their money is really going — it gives a lot of opportunities on campus.”
“I think when people donate, they don’t think it’s a big thing,” she said. “But it’s such a big thing.”