The Garden City Community College Endowment Association's 34th annual Phonathon begins Sept. 30. This longtime fundraiser provides numerous scholarships for GCCC students in all areas of study, from agriculture to fine art! Please be ready to answer the call when one of our students, faculty, staff or other Broncbusters phone you. Your support makes a difference.

The campaign is taking place under the theme, "Branding the Future," and it's an endeavor designed to raise funds for academic and technical scholarships, as well as projects to support academics.

In 2012, GCCC awarded more than $455,000 in scholarships funded through the Endowment Association. As an institution that cares about our students' financial condition, we strive to fully award all scholarships that are available.

Last year, in addition to the scholarships awarded, the Endowment Association granted more than $71,000 to help academic and vocational programs at GCCC. Funds generally are used for equipment and technology needed to keep GCCC's learning environment at a state-of-the-art level.

According to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System from the U.S. Department of Education, 90 percent of GCCC's full-time, first-time degree/certificate seeking students receive scholarships and/or grants in an average amount of $4,073 per student. IPEDS data further reflects that 60 percent of all students attending GCCC receive an average of $3,675 in grants and scholarships per year. These kinds of awards cannot be made without the generous contributions made by donors via the Endowment Phonathon, mail campaign and auction.

A different team of campus and community volunteers will work each evening of the eight-night fundraiser. (Calls are not made Friday through Sunday.) Teams from which you may receive a call include GCCC employees; faculty, students and alumni representing the GCCC Nursing and Allied Health Department; members of the GCCC meat judging team and Student Government Association; the campus chapter of the Hispanic American Leadership Organization; the rodeo team; Fine Arts faculty, staff and students; the Department of Public Safety, which includes Criminal Justice, Fire Science and Paramedic Program students and faculty; students and faculty of the Adult Learning Center, as well as students and faculty in the GCCC Cosmetology program. Area and community residents who serve on the Endowment Association Board of Directors also volunteer for the phonathon throughout the eight evenings.

GCCC graduates who have benefited from Endowment scholarships are serving today as paramedics, journalists, firefighters, accountants, musicians, law enforcement officers, social workers, doctors, nurses, welders, teachers and principals. Others are attorneys, child care providers, researchers, weather forecasters, counselors, artists and designers.

In addition, there are GCCC alumni working as coaches, stock brokers, industrial producers, computer and networking specialists, engineers, entrepreneurs and managers. They're also serving in a wide range of additional fields and professions. Our community, region, state and country's workforce is being bolstered by these scholarship recipients.

Verizon Wireless is the Endowment Association's 2013 Business of the Year and donates the services and phones for the phonathon. Therefore, caller ID will reflect a "785" or "913" area code when you receive your call from GCCC.

So, Sept. 30 to Oct. 4, when you see a "785" or "913" area code come up on your phone, please answer your call. It's the Broncbusters calling you for help.