A first generation college student and 2020 Washington State University graduate is saying thank you to a state scholarship foundation by donating his first paycheck from his new career job.
Neftali Garcia is a member of the 2020 graduating class. He is the first in his family to graduate from college and left Washington State University in Pullman, WA with the job he was striving for thanks in part to the Washington Apple Education Foundation (WAEF). WAEF is the Washington Apple Commission’s charitable organization that helps children of tree fruit industry workers attend college and get career training.
Neftali says he was lucky enough to get opportunities during his junior and senior year thanks to friends telling him about the scholarships from the Washington Apple Education Foundation. He received a scholarship his junior year and then an even bigger scholarship his senior year. WAEF completely altered how Neftali could spend and save, but this wasn’t the only impact. Due to less time spent on summer jobs, Neftali was available for internship opportunities. WAEF helped make that happen.
“This is more than money. You know, we’re their partners,” Jennifer Witherbee, the Executive Director of the Washington Apple Education Foundation said, “We want to be able to see them all the way through to graduation and we want to help them make sure that when they graduate, they’re ready to land that first career job.”
WAEF has given more than $1,000,000 in scholarships over the past 25 years but they rely on donors within the fruit tree industry to make that happen. These stories made Neftali think about how he could make a difference.
“I was like, this is what I can do,” Neftali said, “I can like create a scholarship or donate and be part of the foundation and be able to help other people. I sometimes don’t have much to offer but I try quite a bit just to help other if I can.”
He reached out to Jennifer about his plan to donate his first paycheck from Zirkle Food Company back to WAEF to help another student.
“I was just quite overwhelmed with the gift he decided to make,” Witherbee said, “We have amazing students and we love them interacting with WAEF and coming back but when he reached out and said ‘I’ve been looking for a way to be part of the foundation after I graduated and a way I would be able to show my appreciation.’ I just was quite blown away from that. I get to be around people doing good things all the time, volunteering their time, giving their money to people that they don’t know, and just that he wanted to be able to celebrate his graduation and was willing to do that with this first paycheck was really pretty amazing.”