Davianne Astley is proof that scholarships work. The College of Western Idaho (CWI) alumna says if it weren’t for a scholarship she received from the CWI Foundation, she would not be where she is today. It took her six years and a lot of hard work and encouragement to complete her associate degree in Biology Healthcare. She finally did it in May 2015. Although it was anything but easy, the experience changed her life.
“I come from a family where they’re proud of you if you make it through high school,” she said. “To go to college and earn a degree is a big deal.”
Davianne, who did not officially complete high school due to Idaho’s lack of recognition for home schooling, started at CWI in the spring of 2009. Five years into her studies toward a two-year degree—and just about ready to give up—she received a scholarship from Best Bath Systems. Although she says the financial help was greatly appreciated, it meant a lot more than money.
“I did not want to let anyone down,” she said. “I was so stressed and so weighed down by life and I just wanted to quit so many times. (I said) ‘I don’t need this. I’m going to be just fine.’ But getting those scholarships pushed me just a little bit more. And I said you know what, they gave me that money and I am not going to let them down. I’m going to finish this.”
During Davianne’s studies, her youngest daughter was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She reduced her credit load to a minimum in order to accommodate her family’s needs. Credit-by-credit, she slowly worked toward degree completion. She earned a 3.8 grade point average, which helped her earn a scholarship.
“This particular scholarship—being noticed for my involvement in school, for having good grades, for showing an interest in and being a part of the CWI community—it’s neat that the Foundation is noticing these people,” she said. “It means so much to be recognized for your hard work.”
Davianne’s involvement led to a second scholarship opportunity when she joined CWI’s Presidential Ambassadors program. While she was busy being involved in school, Davianne says the experience with her daughter also helped her gain a deeper understanding of what she was actually learning in her classes. Another thing she discovered—she enjoys teaching as much as learning.
“CWI has helped my family to know that education is important and I think that is a life changer for every person,” she said. “We don’t just go to school for fun. We go there for a reason. Education is the key to our future.”
Davianne is continuing her studies at Boise State University where she will focus on biology and secondary teaching.