Judy Lee Norris Endowed Scholarship Fund: A Tribute to the Transformative Power of Education

 In Donor Stories, Inspiring Stories, News

Judy Lee Norris knew the transformative power of education,

a belief rooted in her remarkable life journey. Born in Aberdeen and living with her family in Westport, Washington, Judy then moved with her family to Newport, Oregon, when she was eight, as her father expanded his commercial fishing business. Judy frequently accompanied her father on his boat, the Mayme, on 10-day fishing trips off the coast of Oregon and Washington. During these adventures, she developed a life-long love of all things nautical.

Professionally, Judy wore many hats. After moving to Vancouver, Washington, she started working demanding factory jobs but wanted something more for her family. That’s why Judy turned to education. She knew to get out of her currently labor-intensive job she would need a high school diploma, which she had never received. While it was difficult to go back to school with a family and working a full-time job, she did it. With a lot of dedication and tenacity, as well as support from Clark College, Judy received her GED® from Clark. The degree opened new work options, leading to a better life for her family. She became a real estate office manager and an entrepreneur, owning a custom upholstery shop where she restored classic and antique furniture as a master upholsterer. Her sharp mind, keen sense of humor, and love for sharing laughs with friends and family made her a beloved figure in her community.

Judy’s indomitable spirit was most evident when, at 73 years of age, she survived a life-altering traumatic brain injury. Her courage and resilience saw her through a difficult recovery, and she continued to thrive despite physical challenges. Her journey took another turn when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia just before her 77th birthday. Throughout her cancer treatment, Judy’s love for family, friends, and life itself carried her through.

A Lasting Legacy

Judy’s life exemplified the power of perseverance and the impact of education. Her legacy, through this scholarship, will continue to inspire and support future generations of students at Clark College.

In honor of her tenacity and legacy, Judy’s immediate family has established a scholarship for Clark College students walking similar paths in their life. The Judy Lee Norris Endowed Scholarship was established thanks to an initial six-figure donation and aims to alleviate the financial burden for students pursuing their GED® or High School+ Diploma, Washington state’s unique opportunity for residents to complete a high school diploma using coursework previously earned. Additionally, the funds may cover GED® testing fees, which can be a significant expense, and provide scholarships for students who choose to continue their education in a trades program at Clark College.

To learn more about Judy Lee Norris’ life, click here!

Sharing the gift of education

Adam Norris, representing the family, remarked “My mother’s journey is a testament to the transformative power of education. Without a high school diploma, mom’s early career was a series of physically demanding factory jobs. Mom’s intelligence and hard work helped her earn a GED® from Clark College and it set her on a new career path that provided both economic security and professional satisfaction. She applied her extraordinary work ethic to all of her pursuits and optimizing the value of her GED® was no exception. As a family, we wanted to share the gift of education with those in similar circumstances as a tribute to our late mother.”

Dr. Karin Edwards, President of Clark College

“We are deeply honored by the Norris family’s generosity. This scholarship will open doors for many students, helping them achieve their educational and career aspirations.”

Heidi Summers, Dean of Transitional Studies, English, Communications & Humanities

“I am profoundly inspired by Judy Norris’ story and deeply grateful that her family has chosen our program to continue her legacy. The generous gift from the Norris Family will support our students to complete a high school diploma or GED® and continue on their post-secondary education path leading to a career.”

Calen D.B. Ouellette, CEO of the Foundation

“The Norris Family has a vision that directly aligns with the mission of the Foundation and we could not be more excited to support this scholarship endowment fund. Clark College Foundation, in partnership with the Norris Family, is using this as an opportunity to support those in our community who are looking to complete their high school credentials at Clark College and perhaps even move beyond to expanded degree options.”

Education in Southwest Washington

Join the Generosity

The public is invited to contribute to this fund to help more students achieve their educational goals. To make a gift, visit bit.ly/NorrisGift or call Clark College Foundation at 360-992-2301.

About the Clark College Foundation

Clark College Foundation (CCF) is an independent, self-funded, and self-governed nonprofit that partners with Clark College through philanthropy and asset investment. The Foundation was established on July 25, 1973, as a 501(c)(3) organization. Since its inception, more than $85 million has been provided to Clark College.

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