13:15 PM

Scholarships Smooth the Transition for Transfer Students


By Cris Hay-Merchant, Director of Strategic Communications

For Linda Lopez Dillon, life is all about forward motion.

The mother of 12 made a decision in 2016 to return to college to obtain the career preparation needed to become a certified couples counselor, and started her educational journey at Buena Vista University, taking courses at the Iowa Western Community College campus. After a couple of terms there, the Carson, Iowa, native transferred to Bellevue University, where she’s now enjoying the flexibility and convenience of Bellevue University’s accelerated online cohort program.

Fueling her progress is a financial support in the form of a DREAM Scholarship from Bellevue University. “Unfortunately, our family finances aren’t enough to fund a college education,” explained Linda, “so I rely on financial aid and scholarships, while my husband provides our family income.” The American Dream Scholarship program brings together support from caring Bellevue University donors. According to Johnna Hargens-Brown, Director of Scholarships and Grants, “The awards play a vital role in assisting motivated students, like Linda, who are pursuing their own dreams of a better life for themselves and their families.”

Linda Lopez-Dillon family photoThat better life Linda is seeking expanded exponentially when she and her husband brought five young children into their already blended family home in 2005. Linda and her husband fostered the children, three of whom have special needs, for two years before ultimately adopting them. “These children were neglected and abused before being placed into our home,” she said. “It has taken years of support from social services workers, family and friends to help them thrive and flourish into the people they are today.”

Today, the Dillon brood ranges in age from 13 all the way to a 21-year-old son who will soon graduate from Navy boot camp with his sights set on a military career. “Me going to school shows my children that higher education is important,” said Linda, who also helps to care for and nurture 10 grandchildren. Linda hopes to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Science next spring, a goal aided by the fact that her credits from Buena Vista transferred seamlessly into her degree program at Bellevue University. The University has been recognized as among the nation’s best for transfer students. In fact, 88 percent of recent Bellevue University graduates were able to successfully transfer college credit to help complete their bachelor’s degrees. Students may enter with associate degrees from a community college or previous four-year college credit hours or work experience and build on those to achieve their bachelor’s degree in less time and for less cost.

The flexibility of Bellevue University’s approach means the world to adult learners like Linda and Cathy Curtis. Cathy started college straight after high school, but then took a break to marry and raise a family. In 2012, she began pursuing an associate’s degree in culinary arts at Metropolitan Community College. After completing that program in 2014, Cathy was able to transfer those credits to Bellevue University, and earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Adult Education. Cathy CurtisToday, Cathy is on the staff of Metro’s Institute for the Culinary Arts as the Culinary Outreach Coordinator. “It’s the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done,” she said, “and going to work is a joy every day,” Cathy credits her success to the family and co-workers who encouraged her, and also is grateful for the Peter Kiewit Scholarship she received at Bellevue University. “It’s made a huge difference in (meeting) the financial challenge that exists for us,” said the mother of two.

Linda, whose ultimate goal is to keep moving forward toward a Master’s Degree in Clinical Counseling, says “I’ve been so pleased with Bellevue University,” said Linda, citing the University’s “very supportive atmosphere” for transfer students like herself. “I can’t thank the donors enough for the difference they’re making for me and for my family. It means I don’t have to worry and that I can focus on my education.”

Bellevue University’s American Dream Scholarship program provides more than $1.25 million in support for students who are close to obtaining their degrees each year. Many recipients are first-generation college students, returning older students, or single parents with financial constraints. For more information about Bellevue University’s Scholarships & Grants program, please contact scholarships@bellevue.edu.