Devanee Matcham, a recent Sociology graduate from West Hills College Coalinga, was one of two students nationally to receive the Harvey Lincoln Student Scholarship from Achieving the Dream this spring. Ms. Matcham received the scholarship in recognition of her strong academics and her engagement in the community.
While she graduated from West Hills College Coalinga as a clear leader among her peers, Ms. Matcham didn’t feel that she always valued her education, even when she began in college. A traumatic experience during her first semester left her feeling vulnerable, and she struggled to cope with even the simplest tasks outside of school. Prior to the experience, she did relatively well in school, but primarily went through the motions. Her experience, which she wrote about with the encouragement from a professor, caused her to reconsider her approach to education. “I never realized the absolute power education had until it was all that I had left when I felt that everything was taken from me,” Ms. Matcham shared in her scholarship application essay.
While she still has struggles related to the trauma, she has used her experience in mentoring her peers. As a Supplemental Instructor, she made it her personal goal to help students feel supported in their pursuit of education. She worked closely with students who felt discouraged in the classroom and helped empower them to succeed. As Secretary of the Associated Student Body Council, Ms. Matcham worked to enhance the relationship between the student body and college staff. She also served as president of the Multicultural Organization Space for Activities, Inclusion and Collaboration (MOSAIC), promoting cultural awareness on campus and creating space for the campus community to explore different cultures in a supportive setting. In her community, Ms. Matcham volunteers with English Language Learners, where she helps community members develop English language skills.
“Devanee is a shining example of the talent and promise that is within each of us,” stated ATD Senior Vice President Carol Lincoln, whose late husband Harvey is honored through the scholarship fund. “West Hills College Coalinga saw that promise in Devanee, and the college provided the supports that have helped her succeed.”
ATD President and CEO Dr. Karen A. Stout said, “I’m so proud to have the opportunity to recognize Devanee, an amazing student who has persevered through a traumatic experience. Harvey knew that every community college has students like Devanee, and we want to lift them up – and Harvey – through this Scholarship Fund.”
Ms. Matcham graduated from West Hills College Coalinga on Friday, May 24 with a 4.0 grade point average. Her hard work culminated with her serving as student commencement speaker, and she will transfer to UCLA in the fall to continue her studies.