One charity in Arizona wants to help more students face the rising price of college.
ARIZONA, USA — Several photos of family decorate the walls of Peggy Baze’s office.
Large family photos to candid pictures capturing just a couple of people show a family bonded.
Baze points to one featuring an older man with a closed-lip smile, his hand on his hip.
“Look at the spunk in him,” Baze said of her father in the photo.
Spunk is one word Baze uses to describe her father, others include perseverance and determination.
It’s one set of words that George Keown, who Baze says everyone called “GK,” is known for, though:
“He was notorious for saying, ‘Keep your chin up, kid,’” Baze said.
Since her dad died, Baze has helped keep those words alive.
“Those words are priceless to me,” Baze said.
GK died from cancer, and mesothelioma, in 2018.
“When I was getting very sad on that one day, I heard him. I heard the words, ‘Keep your chin up, kid,’ And it was the first time since my dad passed that, that I had heard those words. And so I knew I had to do something,” Baze said.
That something became the GK Legacy Foundation. The foundation provides scholarships from $500 to $5,000 to Arizona residents who are 25 and older and working on getting higher education.
“They want to go back to school, you know; they don’t want the pity. They don’t want to feel sorry for themselves. They don’t want others to feel sorry for themselves. They want to go back to school to better their lives and their kids’ lives,” Baze said.
Vanessa Cardenas said she’s always had the dream of being a nurse.
“Honestly, I never thought that I could do it,” Cardenas said.
She started a nursing program in January 2021 at Arizona College of Nursing.
Cardenas is a single mom of two kids and a first-generation college student.
But, Cardenas said, it became harder to manage when she needed to take a session over.
“At that point, I was like, ‘You know what? I can’t do this. It’s gonna be way too much,’’ Cardenas said.
Tuition went up too. But Cardenas said she found and decided to apply for a scholarship through the GK Legacy Foundation.
Cardenas recalls when Baze called her to get more information, and then an email came in.
“When I saw that email come in, and you know, ‘congratulations,’ I was like standing in the store waiting in line. And I’m trying so hard to hold my tears back,” Cardenas said.
Recipients can receive the scholarship up to four times, and that’s helped Cardenas continue working toward her goal of graduating with her bachelor’s degree in 2023.
“It’s not easy being a single parent, you know, you go through life struggles, and then more struggles. And it’s just in that moment, it was just unbelievable,” Cardenas said.
The scholarship, in GK’s name, ultimately granted more than just money.
“It’s like that, that push to keep going, to keep moving forward,” Cardenas said.
Which is the perseverance and determination that Baze believes her dad embodied.
“You need to believe you can do it,” Baze said.
Applications for the scholarships are open right now. Applicants have to be an Arizona resident, 25 years of age or older, and have a high school diploma or a GED.
Applications for this round close on October 15. A link to the application can be found here.
If you’d like to help continue Arizona students’ education, you can donate here.
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