Northeast Iowa Community College and Upper Iowa University have both announced that they will provide the Audrey Gibbs family of West Union with up to five scholarships apiece. These scholarships were presented to the family Sunday during the unveiling of the new house built by volunteers and the crew of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
Audrey, who lost her husband eleven years ago to Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, has raised six children on her own despite having brain aneurysms that took over 20 percent of her brain and are now causing blindness. She is a 2008 NICC Professional Massage Therapy and 2003 Cosmetology graduate of NICC.
NICC President Dr. Liang Chee Wee stated that he wanted to make sure that Audrey's children had the same opportunities to a college education. "With a vast majority of all new jobs now requiring some form of postsecondary education, a college degree is clearly the ticket to the middle class. It is our hope that education will break the cycle of poverty for this family and many others like them," stated Dr. Wee.
Upper Iowa University has also offered up to five scholarships for an additional two years of education, which would allow each of the kids to get four years of education if they so choose. At the current tuition rate, the UIU gift is valued at about $233,000.
"We are pleased to be able to support this family with a gift that will make a lasting difference in the individual lives of family members," said UIU President Alan G. Walker. "This family has overcome so much, and we know that being able to invest in college education poses an enormous challenge.
Faculty, staff and students from both NICC and Upper Iowa have spent several weeks raising funds and donating time, labor and assistance for the family.