Sierra College Students Pursuing Applied Technology Benefit From Walsh Family Scholarships

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Sierra College students who will be studying applied competitive technologies received Walsh Family Scholarships from Placer Community Foundation in May 2016.

Drew Tomashefsky (L) receives Walsh Scholarship from Don Whitaker, Ceronix Inc (R) - photo provided by Placer Community Foundation.

The Walsh Family Scholarship is an investment in our local community and economy, and allows recipients to train for essential jobs in sectors that have critical need for employees over the next several years.

Sierra College students who received the John G. and Lillian M. Walsh Family Scholarship say that it encouraged them to come to Sierra College and persist in pursuing degrees and certificates, according to Carol Pepper-Kittredge, Director, Center for Applied Competitive Technologies, Sierra College.

“Placer Community Foundation administers the Walsh Family Scholarships,” said Pepper-Kittredge. “Scholarships of up to $1000 per year for two years are awarded to students studying Mechatronics, Engineering, Welding, Drafting Engineering Support, and Construction and Energy Technology and residing in the Auburn area who enroll at Sierra College.”

Placer Community Foundation (PCF) awarded 11 Walsh Family scholarships in May 2016 and has distributed over $40,000 since 2015, according to Veronica Blake, CEO, PCF. “Placer Community Foundation is pleased to provide financial support to deserving local students in the form of scholarships,” said Blake. “The John G. and Lillian M. Walsh Family Scholarship is an investment in our local community and economy, and allows recipients to train for essential jobs in sectors that have critical need for employees over the next several years.”

The 2016 scholarship recipients were: Angel Aponte, Sean Gillum, Diego Lopez, Natalie Rowland and Drew Tomashefsky from Placer High School; Kiel Donahue, Nicholas Dorer and Wyatt Ralston from Foresthill High School; Nathan Barton from Colfax High School; Trevor Emerick from Del Oro High School; and Vanessa Lull, continuing student at Sierra College.

Kyle Hill, who first received a Walsh Scholarship last year when he graduated from Del Oro High School in Loomis CA, indicated that the award encouraged him to attend Sierra College. “I wasn’t planning to go to college until I received the Walsh Scholarship,” said Hill. “My high school welding teacher, Mike Pahl, suggested that I apply.”

Hill discovered his passion for welding while at Del Oro where he took all the classes offered. “I really like welding and troubleshooting to figure out a solution,” said Hill. “The welding and auto classes I took in high school helped me move faster through college because I got credit for eight and one half units.”

The Walsh Scholarship helped defray college expenses for Hill who works part-time operating equipment for a landscaping yard while attending college. “The Walsh Scholarship paid for my tuition and books so I didn’t have to work full time,” said Hill. “The money also helped me purchase my own personal protective gear such as a helmet, gloves and safety glasses that I use in class and will use on the job when I graduate. The scholarship gave me peace of mind knowing that I could afford college.”

Hill was surprised how much he likes attending Sierra College. “The Sierra College welding program is amazing and going to college is so much better than I ever dreamed,” said Hill. “There is so much more to welding than meets the eye. Welding is more about metallurgy and physics than just burning rod; it is fascinating.”

The college welding faculty members were very welcoming, explained Hill. “Bill Wenzel and the other welding instructors are fantastic. They taught us tricks to make welding easier and explained complicated processes in easy to understand language,” said Hill.

With his welding certificate nearly complete, Hill indicated that he hopes to find work welding pipelines, possibly for a utility or on an oil rig. “I’d like to travel and get more experience in the field,” said Hill. “The scholarship changed my thinking about college and careers.”

Mackenzie Miller also graduated from Del Oro High School and received a Walsh Family Scholarship a year ago to study engineering at Sierra College. “The scholarship paid for my tuition and I’ve been able to take a full load while working four days per week in an engineering office,” said Miller.

The transition to college has gone well, reflected Miller after finishing her first year. “Sierra College is a very welcoming campus, the teachers are nice and it didn’t feel like too big of a jump from high school,” said Miller. She indicated that taking Advanced Placement courses at Del Oro helped her prepare for the study load at college.

Her favorite college class was Chemistry. “I really liked the hands-on chemistry lab,” said Miller. “Now, I’m leaning toward Chemical Engineering and expect to transfer to university after next year.”

Miller encourages other students to apply for the Walsh Family Scholarship. “The application was just a few pages long and the people were really nice at the interview,” said Miller. “It was a big help in paying for tuition and college costs.”

Students can find out how to apply for the Walsh Family Scholarship from their college and high school websites and counselors.

About the Walsh Legacy and Placer Community Foundation
Marian Vade Walsh was the fourth generation of her family to live in Auburn CA and she established the John G. and Lillian M. Walsh Family Scholarship Fund in honor of her parents to provide scholarships for local students. Placer Community Foundation (PCF) grows local giving to strengthen our community by connecting donors who care with causes that matter. To learn more, visit

About Sierra College CACT
Sierra College Center for Applied Competitive Technologies(CACT) is focused on Advanced Manufacturing and is funded through the Workforce and Economic Development program of the California Community College Chancellor’s Office. For more information, contact Carol Pepper-Kittredge at training(at) or 916-660-7801.

About Sierra College
Since its founding in 1936, Sierra College has focused on quality instruction and meeting the needs of the communities that it serves. With approximately 125 degree and certificate programs, Sierra College is ranked first in Northern California for transfers to four year universities, offers career/technical training, and classes for upgrading job skills. Sierra College graduates can be found in businesses and industries throughout the Sacramento region. Our award-winning faculty members enhance their teaching with research, authorship and industry expertise. We are also recognized nationally for excellence in our athletic programs. For more information, visit

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Sue Michaels

Carol Pepper-Kittredge
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