Sarah Wood, a Muskegon Community College student from Holland, MI, is one of eight students nationally who have been selected as 2020 Achieving the Dream (ATD) DREAM Scholars.
ATD encompasses a growing network of more than 277 community colleges in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Member institutions are committed to helping their students achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity. Muskegon Community College has been an ATD member since 2010 and, in 2015, earned the designation of ATD Leader College.
The DREAM Student Scholars program is a student engagement and professional development opportunity for students from active ATD Network institutions. DREAM Scholars are nominated by their institutions, submit applications that ask them to reflect on their college journeys, and undergo a rigorous selection process. Wood is among the first MCC nominees for the DREAM Scholar program.
From the age of 17 when she earned her GED plus four diploma to her current recognition as a national DREAM scholar, Wood’s educational journey has taken her to three colleges in three different states and through many challenges, including substance abuse and the struggle to balance college, work, and parenting.
Inspired by the many strong-willed women who have helped her overcome her struggles, Wood, who has 22 hours completed at MCC, wants to earn a four-year college degree and to make a difference in the community.
“I plan on opening my own non-profit long-term treatment center for pregnant women and their small children in West Michigan,” she said. “It will give me the greatest sense of accomplishment that I have ever received. I will get enrichment every time I can help change a life for the better. Sharing my past with others so that they may draw strength from it will be a blessing.”
“Sarah’s story really speaks to the mission of the College,” noted MCC English Instructor Jenny Klingenberg,” who co-directs the ATD initiative on campus. “It’s a powerful example of how life experience can give a real sense of purpose to students’ career aspirations and motivate their success in college.”
As a DREAM Scholar, Wood will participate in ATD’s program to enhance leadership, critical thinking and networking skills. During DREAM, the students meet with community college leaders, share their educational experiences, and attend sessions on improving student success, institutional governance, teaching and learning, administration, and more.
Their DREAM experience includes individual presentations where Scholars share what they have learned during the week, while providing additional insight about Network colleges’ work to improve their students’ success and completion and close achievement gaps for historically underserved student populations.
The program culminates in a presentation by the DREAM Scholars to more than 2,000 community college leaders at ATD’s annual conference, DREAM, in National Harbor, Maryland from Feb. 18-21, 2020.
The 2020 DREAM Scholars are:
- Mayerlies Diaz, Holyoke Community College (Massachusetts)
- Aylin Garcia, El Paso Community College (Texas)
- Andre Henderson, Olympic College (Washington)
- Miguel Lopez, Lee College (Texas)
- Jacob McArthur, White Earth Tribal and Community College (Minnesota)
- Tuan Nguyen, Northeast State Community College (Tennessee)
- Kendall Stephens, Community College of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania)
- Sarah Wood, Muskegon Community College (Michigan)
Student bios are available at https://www.achievingthedream.org/news/17963/eight-students-chosen-as-2020-dream-scholars.