McKenzie McCormack literally won the scholarship lottery. McCormack, a 2016 graduate of Stansbury High School, earned a total of five scholarships to Tooele Applied Technology College. At first she was curious about what scholarships were available. After she had completed some research, she found the process wasn’t all that hard at all, she said.
“I was in high school and wasn’t sure if I wanted to go off to a college and pick a major. So, I thought I would try cosmetology,” she explained. “Then, I loved it!”
So, McCormack started looking into ways to pay for her tuition and fees for the program. The cosmetology program at TATC is a 1,600-hour program, and can take from one to two years, depending on the number of hours the student takes a week.
“When I started looking around for ways to pay, I was surprised. I didn’t know you could get scholarships for a program like cosmetology,” she said. “I thought scholarships were just for big schools and stuff.”
McCormack started by talking to her SHS adviser, Pamela Keller.
“She was really good, helping me find scholarship opportunities and different programs that would work for any school you were going to,” she said.
Thinking about her program costs, McCormack started applying for every program she could think of.
“I just tried for everything. Just remember the deadlines,” McCormack cautioned.
She has another hint for scholarship-seekers.
“My adviser said sometimes no one applies for the little scholarships and grants. A lot of people don’t know about them and don’t apply. These organizations want to help students.”
One scholarship application from the Elks Association was a bit unusual.
“I literally walked into a bar and turned in an application,” McCormack said. “It was the weirdest thing ever. But I got it! I don’t think anyone else knew about it. And I am grateful.”
Some people only think big scholarships are worth applying for.
“Some might think that $500 is nothing, but I think, ‘Hey, that is $500 I don’t have to pay’,” she said.
McCormack won the five different scholarships in a variety of ways.
The first one was from the Elks Association, she said. There was an application process to work through.
The second was a Career and Technical Education scholarship — this is money that comes through state funding to a career college. TATC offers four of them each year. The scholarship is $500.
The third was from the Tooele Education Foundation. McCormack said she found the information online and filled out an application with an essay regarding what she was planning to do with her education. It is for $500.
The fourth was a Ken Garff Keys to Success.
That scholarship took a little more work, McCormack said.
“To apply you had to have a key, and that key was something that a teacher would give you for an impressive performance,” she said. “So, I worked with one of my history teachers and made a goal with them — like getting certain grades and communicating with the teacher — and the teacher would give you the key by the end of the deadline. Then there was the stuff about service, grades and some test scores.”
In the end, McCormack was awarded $500 and had a giant check to hold.
“True, it was pretty cool,” she laughed.
The fifth scholarship was from the Kiwanis organization.
“You can qualify for this tuition waiver until the start of school in August of your graduating year,” McCormack said. “You don’t have to pay tuition for the summer. And I totally took advantage of that to get more hours in for my program classes so I wouldn’t have to pay as much later.”
McCormack has had some detours on her way, but hopes to return to school soon to finish just a few more months’ coursework. Because she is working toward a state cosmetology license, the hours she has already completed do not have to be repeated.
“I want to start a family and be a photographer too,” she said. “My parents are proud of me for getting all these scholarships and doing work to earn them. They are paying my fees … and scholarship [so my] money goes a lot further. All of this will definitely help my life be better.”
If McCormack hadn’t gotten the scholarships, “It would have taken much longer to get done and balancing work and school. This is much nicer,” she said.
“Getting scholarships is a lot of work, but it pays off,” she added.
“Look for those little scholarships that most people don’t know about,” she said. “Apply for everything you can find; you don’t know what you could get.”
TATC offers a variety of ways to pay for college. Students in Tooele County high schools are offered free tuition while they are in high school. In addition, the Presidential Waiver is special money given to high school seniors once they graduate. The waiver pays for their tuition during the summer after their graduation.
For more information about these and other scholarships and the qualifications for each, contact TATC at 435-248-1800 or visit the school’s website at tatc.edu.