Ray Robinson was very pleased Friday night with the group of students he and his wife, Marilyn, are helping put through college.
Sitting down at their table at Washington State University Tri-Cities' Scholarship Recognition Event, the Robinsons shook hands and spoke with each of their students and learned about their plans.
"They're all in math, they're all going to be (teaching) middle school math," he said.
Roughly 300 people, including students, donors and community members, attended the banquet at the Three Rivers Convention Center.
The event gave donors a peek at the future engineers, nurses, teachers and professionals they're nurturing, and provided the students the opportunity to publicly thank their supporters.
"Your donations show us ... people want to see us succeed and to follow in your footsteps," senior Franciso Javier Soto said to attendees.
More than 150 students received a total of $403,000 from foundations, organizations or donor-supported scholarships for this academic year. That is a drop from the $431,000 provided to students last year.
Chancellor H. Keith Moo-Young said the university values its donors and the businesses and organizations that support students who might otherwise not be able to afford college.
Soto, whose family immigrated from Mexico to the United States 13 years ago, could only dream of a college education before receiving a scholarship from Hanford contractor Mission Support Alliance, he said.
Frank Armijo, Mission Support Alliance's president and general manager, saw something of himself -- a first-generation college graduate in his family -- in Soto, he said. Supporting students like him is critical.
The students realize they need to pay it forward. Sophomore Brenda Sandoval is studying nursing with the help of the Women Helping Women Scholarship. She plans to stay in the Tri-Cities and is beyond appreciative for her scholarship's donors, she said.
"Hopefully I'll get to do the same thing and help in the community," she said.
-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @_tybeaver