MIDLOTHIAN — Many would agree that the best way to fundraise is to have fun while you’re doing it, which is precisely what the staff and administration of the Navarro College's two Ellis County campuses are aiming for as they host the 9th annual Brilliance Scholarship Fundraising Gala.

This year’s theme is “Casablanca with a Moroccan flair” and will be a first class evening of cocktails, a gourmet dinner catered by the Doves Nest, a live auction and High Roller table and live entertainment.

Retired Executive Administrative Assistant for the Navarro College Ellis County campuses and a member of the Brilliance Executive Advisory Board, Lynn Pike, shared that last year’s event was hosted in Waxahachie and raised over $154,000. The previous year, it was held in Midlothian where it raised $95,000.

Navarro was able to provide a total of 109 dual credit scholarship and 40 general education scholarships.

“Last year was a milestone for us because we raised enough money to scholarship every student that applied and was eligible. We’re super proud of that. The community rallied together amazing, and we are looking forward to this year,” Pike said.

Though the event alternates between the two communities every year, the funds all go to the same place.

“What I’m finding that the full community, not only Waxahachie and Midlothian, is buying into this for their kids to make that transition to a four-year university or vocational programs,” President of Ellis County campuses Dr. Kenneth Martin said. “We have a five-county service area, and this is the largest fundraiser in the district and history of Navarro College.”

According to the Navarro College press release, “More than 1,000 scholarships have been awarded to Ellis County students since Brilliance began in 2009. [...] The average cost to an Ellis County general academic student to take 12 credit hours is $1,433.00 plus books per semester.”

Proceeds from the event directly fund scholarships, which include both general education and dual credit for Ellis County students in the following school districts:

Avalon, Ennis, Ferris, Italy, Life School, Maypearl, Midlothian, Milford, New Way Leadership Academy, Ovilla Christian, Palmer, Red Oak, Waxahachie, Waxahachie Faith Family Academy and Waxahachie Preparatory Academy.

“It’s important for students to know what the general education scholarships are. In other words, they are for those students who were not dual credit students but are graduating and planning to attend Navarro College,” Martin explained. “Students save a great deal of money when they go through Navarro and take dual credit classes or attend for general education after high school.”

Pike added that it hasn’t gone unnoticed the number of students who take dual credit in high school and finish their general education degree at Navarro following graduation.

“Our message and call to the community is that we are about the students, it’s all about them. We raise money, have fun and give it away to the students. This started out very small and it has grown exponentially, but the same core concept which is to help the students is still intact,” Pike said. “When community members come to this event, they know they’re going to have a good event, see the students and get a letter from the student. They know exactly where their money is going.”

Dr. Martin emphasized the notable dedication given by the Ellis County Community members as well as his co-workers.

“We also have our three dedicated leaders Lynn Pike, Mellie Sibley and Melissa Ballard and a full advisory committee. When they say go here and talk to the Rotary or talk to businesses, I’m running. Mainly because I know the outcome and I understand the difference it can make in students lives,” Martin said. “ I guarantee if I hadn’t been pointed in the right direction or if somebody didn’t give me a chance with my background, I wouldn’t be here. I see that in a lot of our students whether they are middle class or economically disadvantaged, you can tell the difference that it is making.”

He then stressed that the entire staff and administration of the Ellis County campuses know the importance of scholarships and the advantages they provide.

“This event is an amazing community, and I don’t think there is another like ours around. There is so much passion for education here. So many of our community leaders are ready for the event because they are passionate about education. We will always be grateful for them, and we wouldn’t be this successful without them,” Sibley stated.

The event has earned the respect of Navarro College as a whole, not just the two Ellis County campuses.

“I can’t say we demand, but we have that respect in the sense of knowing that we care so much for our students that we have built this up to be the largest fundraiser. Our foundation from Navarro College like the board of trustees are all now getting involved, and I think we have earned that respect,” Martin said.

Martin and Pike shared that many students who attended Navarro have returned after receiving their Bachelor’s degree and tutored or volunteered their time.

“You can help one student, and because of that, they can become successful and help others too,” Pike stated.

The event will take place at the Midlothian Conference Center on Friday, April 1 at 6 p.m. Individual tickets may be purchased for $75.00 each or a table for $600. For more information regarding sponsorship opportunities, tickets or table purchases, please call Julie Clasper at (972) 923-6439 or contact by email at Julie.clasper@navarrocollege.edu.

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Kelsey Poynor, @KPoynor_WDL

(469) 517-1454