The annual Pratt Community College Foundation auction raises scholarship money to help cover education expenses at PCC.

By Gale Rose

grose@pratttribune.com

A college education is expensive and shows no signs of changing. Students across the nation and at Pratt Community College use scholarships to help reduce the cost of that education.

In a effort to raise funds for scholarship, the PCC Foundation holds an annual auction for the specific purpose of raising funds for scholarships.

Scholarships bring more students to PCC and the more students, they more they spend in the community. The more students, the bigger impact on the community, said Lisa Perez Miller, vice president of students.

There's a lot of competition among colleges and universities for students. For PCC to be competitive with the other schools, scholarships are necessary as an incentive to come to Pratt.

Scholarship funds are available through several PCC programs. Many students receive scholarship dollars ranging from a few hundred to full scholarship.

Cole Quaney, PCC automotive program and rodeo team member, has been able to take on both programs without the need for an outside job because of scholarship money.

With his busy class load, one semester he had 25 hours where the average is about 18 hours, it would have been very difficult for him to have an outside job because of the time commitment so his scholarship gave him the opportunity to concentrate on his course work and not have to spend time working at a job, Quaney said.

"I don't think I could have done it," Quaney said. "I was more productive and I had a lot more enjoyable time. Without the scholarship, it would have been rough."

Agriculture instructor Lori Montgomery and rodeo coach Rocky Patterson helped Quaney get the scholarship after he paid a spring semester visit to PCC while he was still in high school.

Quaney plans on going into diesel mechanics and eventually start his own shop. Daryl Lucas, PCC automotive instructor, was also helpful in getting the scholarship.

Logan Mason, another student in the PCC automotive program and a manger for the rodeo team, said he could not have gotten through the automotive program without the help of a scholarship. The automotive program requires a big investment in tools for the students. Without the scholarship, he could not have afforded some of the tools he needed, Mason said.

With the extra tools, Mason was able to take on more difficult projects in the classroom including building an engine and transmission.

"I think it helped me a lot," Mason said. "The scholarship is beneficial."

Montgomery, Patterson and Lucas also helped him getting a scholarship.

Both Quaney and Mason said they hoped people would support the scholarship auction for other students.

In the past, the auction has raised from $35,000 to $45,000. The number of scholarships varies with the amount of money and the amount of the scholarship, Miller said.

Education Instructor Rhonda Westerhaus, who serves as a representative on the Foundation Board, said scholarships range from $250 to full tuition. The Above and Beyond full tuition scholarship plus $500 depends on the student ACT scores, class ranking and their GPA.

The auction is set for 6 p.m. on Friday, April 7 at the Pratt Area 4-H Center. Tickets for the event are $40 for a prime rib and sauteed shrimp dinner plus drinks and the ticket stub is a raffle for a 55 inch 4K Ultra HD TV, Miller said.

The auction is PCCs biggest fund raiser for scholarship funds that benefit PCC students. The auction money for student scholarships and is a great evening with a great meal, Miller said.

Westerhaus said everyone is encouraged to attend this community event. The auction has been going on for 29 years and donations for auction items come from local, state and national vendors plus individual patrons.

This year's theme is "School Spirit" and those attending are encouraged to come in Beaver gear or their favorite university gear. A scoreboard will keep track of bid amounts from each school.

"We hope people will join us April 7," Miller said.

Businesses, organizations and individuals donate a wide variety of items for the auction every year. Premium items on the auction list this year is a Napa Valley Backroads and Railways Wine Train tour featuring a gourmet dinner for two on the Napa Valley wine train, six consecutive hours of chauffeured wine tour service, three nights at the luxury Meritage Resort and Spa and airfare for two donated by NextEra Wind Energy, Miller said.

Other premium items are a custom golf cart in PCC blue with custom tires, wheels and a built in sound system donated by BTI, a prime rib dinner for eight with food, flowers and wine by local chefs Janetta and Eddie Freeman and an opportunity to win a $500 plus diamond jewelry from Parson's Jewelry.

Miller said dining with the Freemans is like eating at a five star restaurant. The house is beautifully decorated, they are both wonderful chefs and the ultimate hosts.

Other items are still coming in and there will be a silent auction with some 50 donated items including Blythe Family Fitness package, wine tastings, Android Tablet, Bluetooth Headset, tickets to various Wichita and Hutchinson attractions and more.

The auction has a long list of items and many donors give every year to make the auction a success, said Barry Fisher, PCC Foundation executive director.

"The only way it works is through the generosity of our supporters," Fisher said.

For tickets, contact Administrative Assistant to the President Donna Meier Pfeifer at 620-450-2240. If people can't attend but want to donate, they should contact prattcc.edu and click on the foundation tab.

@GaleR_Tribune