When Velma Cotterill took her student teaching internship with Western State Teachers College (now WMU) over 90 years ago, she found the reduced amount of time for a job made it difficult to pay for school - a problem students still experience today! Velma went on to be a successful elementary school teacher for over 25 years. She and her husband provided unwavering encouragement and support to the young people in their extended family to complete a college education and the Velma and Harry Cotterill Memorial Scholarship was founded to honor Mr. and Mrs. Cotterill and continue the spirit of that tradition. The scholarship provides funds in support of student teaching internships to help solve the problem Velma identified so many years ago.
Since its inception in 2004, 40 students have benefited from the Velma and Harry Cotterill Memorial Scholarship. "It's been really great to see this scholarship help WMU students,” said Harry Cotterill, Jr., son of Velma and Harry Cotterill. “Being a family memorial, it honors the past. Being an education scholarship it supports the future. Being endowed means it will be around long after we're gone. In the meantime, we always enjoy meeting the recipients, and hearing their enthusiastic plans. It's win-win all-around."
This year’s recipients are Sarah Emma Rose Stiennon and Bridgette Louwers.
Stiennon is a secondary education major with a minor in secondary education history who is expecting to graduate this December. Her dream job is to teach English and drama at a high school or middle school and also assist with an afterschool theatre program. In regards to receiving the scholarship, she shared:
"I am very grateful for the Cotterill scholarship. Student teaching is a five month commitment with no pay; and it is nearly impossible to work a job at the same time. This scholarship allows me to focus my time on teaching, grading, planning, and helping out with after school activities at my internship. Thank you so much for your contribution to my education. I am lucky to be surrounded by friends and family who support my dream of becoming a teacher, but without the help of donors like you, it would be impossible to achieve my teaching certification. With your help, I will be able to finish my student teaching, and pass on your gift to other students in need. Thank you from the bottom of my heart."
Louwers is a special education majoring expecting to graduate in April 2020. She hopes to teach in an elementary school in a special education classroom with students who have emotional impairments, cognitive impairments, and learning disabilities. In regards to receiving the scholarship she shared:
"This scholarship has helped me immensely because I no longer qualify for financial aid, so I would’ve had to pay the full tuition amount if it wasn’t for this scholarship and another grant that I earned! Thank you so much for allowing me to finish my last year of college without financial stress! I am so appreciative of this scholarship!!"