Success is a Family Affair
Presidential Scholarship recipient Ramona Vercher
Every last Sunday of the month, the Vercher family holds a big dinner for its many members: Donnie and Louise Vercher, their nine children, 14 grandchildren and assorted in-laws, relatives, and friends.
The family would have plenty to celebrate at their June dinner: Ramona Vercher, the second-youngest of the Vercher children, was named the 2013-14 Community College President’s Award recipient. The annual scholarship is given to a Clark College graduate who is transferring to Washington State University Vancouver; it provides full-time tuition for one year, renewable for one additional year, for a total of four semesters.
The whole Vercher family was in attendance at commencement, when the award is announced. As Clark College President Robert K. Knight described Vercher’s achievements, a massive cheer erupted in the amphitheater when the family realized she had won.
Vercher, who is a resident of Vancouver, graduated with honors, earning an associate degree in business administration. A first-generation college graduate, she plans to major in business administration with a specialization in finance while attending WSU Vancouver.
Vercher was one of three finalists selected for the award. Knight announced that the other two finalists, Jennifer Campbell and David Taub, would receive $1,000 scholarships from the Clark College Foundation to continue their education. Knight said of the three finalists, “They are sterling examples of what Clark College is all about.”
Vercher plans to continue being an example for Clark College and her family. “I am going to do big things through this scholarship,” she said. “This definitely won’t be the last you see of me.”
Vercher attributes her work ethic to the example set by her parents; Donnie regularly works 13 hours a day at his barbecue restaurant, a business he began after breaking his back doing bridge construction. “I never graduated high school,” said Donnie. “I think [Ramona] sees what her parents went through and wants better.”
Indeed, many of the Vercher children are pursuing education. Ramona’s brother Sherman recently graduated from Western Oregon University, and two of her sisters received their GED diplomas at Clark’s GED and high school completion ceremony on June 22.
While at Clark, Vercher served in a number of volunteer roles both on and off campus. She was a work-study tutor at the Student Learning Center helping Adult Basic Education (ABE), General Educational Development (GED) and English as a Second Language (ESL) students in all subjects. She was also a classroom tutor, assisting professors in the classroom, and part of Clark’s Homework Help program, where she assisted individual students. Within the greater community, her volunteer service has included work with the City of Vancouver’s Urban Youth and City of Vancouver’s Urban Forestry programs.
Additionally, she helps run the charity begun by her family’s small business, Daddy D’s BBQ, providing Christmas presents to families in need, while working as a cashier.
“Receiving this scholarship means everything in the world to me,” said Vercher after the ceremony. “I am a first-generation college student, so to have this opportunity to continue my education is the biggest thing that has ever happened to me in my life.”
Knight said that people who know Vercher praise her for a strong work ethic. Indeed, Vercher often begins study sessions at 5 a.m. to fit them around her work and other activities. She and her longtime boyfriend, Dwan James (also a Clark student), have regularly eschewed fun weekend outings for “date nights” of studying.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFSJBZoXk-Y&feature[/youtube]