ORANGE — A $100,000 donation to Santiago Canyon College, the largest in the school’s history, will go to support Career Technical Education scholarships, opening new doors for both students and the college’s evolution, administrators said.
The gift comes from the estate of Arlin and Betty Pirtle and will support an endowed scholarship fund the late couple established in honor of their daughter, Beverly Pirtle, after she died from cancer.
Pirtle had many roles at SCC over more than 20 years, including instructor, program facilitator and Career Education Department Chair.
Julie Peekan, an administrative secretary in Career Education, worked closely with Pirtle and remembers her as a positive force for both the administration and students. Peekan said Pirtle was known by her co-workers as a jokester who could make Herculean tasks seem manageable – with help from snacks she would always bring – and as someone who always had an open door to students in need.
“She was always very positive, with a ‘we’ll get it done’ sort of attitude,” Peekan said.
Career Technical Education Dean Von Lawson said the gift will be the difference between some students being part-time or full-time, as financial burdens will be lifted from their shoulders.
Colleges such as Santiago Canyon have two main pathways for students: transferring to a four-year school or enrolling with a career technical education program that focuses on skills for a particular career. Lawson said CTE programs can be the difference in getting many families over the poverty line – and the coursework can be put toward an associate’s or bachelor’s degree as well.
Lawson said the gift will have a wider impact on Santiago Canyon College, as the young school begins to find its place on the grander stage.
“I feel so excited that it came to us. We are young college, some 16 years old, still in our infancy stages,” Lawson said. “It has a buzz on this campus, and we hope others will look at this and say ‘yes, Santiago Canyon College is definitely worth investing in.”