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President's Scholars Program

President's Scholars Program
Tia Ruggles (back row, center of tree) is one of almost 90 President's Scholars who attended West Hills College during the fall 2012 semester. Her scholarship has allowed her to successfully continue her college education while undergoing cancer treatment.

Tia Ruggles –West Hills College Coalinga and the President's Scholars Program are blessings in disguise.

Tia Ruggles sees spending her first two years of college close to home attending West Hills College Coalinga as a President's Scholar as a blessing in disguise – comparing the free tuition and books she's receiving for her first two years at West Hills to her brother's $20,000 in student loans for his first three years at Fresno State. She figures she will save about $48,000 while she's at WHCC compared to what she would have spent if she had gone to school in San Diego where she had previously planned to attend.

Beyond the financial savings, attending college close to home has been a major benefit as she undergoes treatments for thyroid cancer that have not interrupted her education at West Hills.

A graduate of Coalinga High School with the Class of 2010, the psychology major says she has a "more personal relationship with many of the faculty members" at West Hills since class sizes are small and that all have been "flexible and understanding" of her treatments, which have included surgery and radiation.

With three surgeries behind her and another one planned at some point in the future, Tia said nothing stands in her way. "One of the biggest things I've learned about life is that it is mostly what you make of it. Get involved, go to sporting events, support your school."

Tia feels she's getting a quality of education at WHCC that will prepare her for transfer to U.C. Santa Cruz where she hopes to complete a bachelor's and master's in psychology with a counseling and student services option.

The President's Scholars Program is open to all California residents who are graduating from high school with a 3.5 grade point average or higher and four semesters of membership in California Scholarship Federation honor society (or equivalent if there is no CSF program at their high school). It provides free fees and up to $250 a semester in books for four semesters. For details, visit www.westhillscollege.com and search: President's Scholars Program.

The program is supported by contributions from the community and with proceeds from the annual President's Scholars Golf Tournament, which is held in early May at Kings Country Club. Contributions can be sent to: President Scholars Program, West Hills Community College Foundation, 9900 Cody, Coalinga, CA 93210. (Tax ID 77-0186793)