Opportunity Scholar Stories

Why is WSOS still so important?

WSOS will have dispersed more than $128.9 million to Scholars across all scholarship programs by the end of the 2022-23 academic year.

WSOS supports low-and middle-income Scholars to help them overcome obstacles toward achieving higher education. These supports include financial assistance, career readiness training, and mentorship opportunities. We offer flexible funding to enable students to pursue a wide range of eligible programs, including hundreds of certificates, associate, bachelor’s, and graduate degrees at many Washington colleges and universities, both public and private.

WSOS’ support has helped more than 14,500 Baccalaureate Scholars, 2,000 Career & Technical Scholars, and 26 Graduate Scholars.

Opportunity Scholars are more likely to graduate, take on less debt, and earn more than their peers.

Once in the workforce, graduates from the Baccalaureate Scholarship (BaS) earn double what their family made just five years into their career.

Our community and technical college recipients earn three times what their families made after just one year.

Washington benefits from WSOS by having a more educated workforce and increased economic opportunities, contributing to the state’s overall economic growth and development.

Kayla, Opportunity Scholar, smiling for the camera in her graduation cords

“Receiving the [scholarship] meant a lot to me. It helped me follow my dreams of going to college and not having a lot of student loans. Growing up, my family was less fortunate than others, and college seemed to not be feasible.

With the help of this scholarship and others I received, the idea of college became more reachable.”

Kayla, Biology, Central Washington University
Opportunity Scholar smiling for the camera outside with fall leaves in the background

“I’m a single mom of a five-year-old boy, and [even] being a medical assistant and a surgical tech, it is hard to make ends meet. This [scholarship] will provide us a lifestyle that will fit into our budget.”

Laura, Nursing, Pierce College
Dalton, Opportunity Scholar, smiling for the camera while out hiking

“This scholarship allows me to focus more on my studies rather than how I will pay for them.

It gives me a greater chance of doing what I thought was impossible, which is becoming a researcher and graduating with a doctorate.”

Dalton, Biology, University of Washington – Seattle
Colby, Opportunity Scholar, smiling for a photo in his graduation chords

“Getting this scholarship meant that these organizations believed in me and invested in my path to success.

It showed me that they not only cared about their own success, but had the generosity and consideration to give to those in need.”

Colby, Computer Science, University of Washington – Seattle

JoAnna’s Incredible Journey from Homelessness to a College Graduate

Born in Eastern Washington, she faced a tumultuous childhood in Seattle, in and out of foster homes and experiencing homelessness.

As a teenager, she only went to school to get a meal and had no interest in learning. But years later, as an adult and a mother, she was dissatisfied with her life. “I was tired of watching other people accomplish great things,” Edwards said.

While scrolling on social media, she came across an advertisement for financial aid that sparked an interest in going to school.

Joanna, Opportunity Scholar, smiling for a photo

“I never really thought about going to school,” she admits. “But I thought, ‘if I can fix cars, that is a skill that will never leave me. It is a skill I can pass down to my kids.”

JoAnna Edwards,
Career & Technical Scholar
Majoring in Automotive Technology
South Seattle College

Today, Edwards’ perspective on education has completely changed. She now thirsts for knowledge and is pursuing a degree in automotive technology from South Seattle College.

Thanks to her hard work and support from the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship, Edwards is making her dreams a reality.

She has found a fulfilling career in a male-dominated industry and is able to support her family. Her story showcases her remarkable strength in pursuing an education and thriving, despite facing obstacles at every turn.

Her inspiring story serves as a powerful example of the life-changing impact that education can have.

Three scholars talking in an office

”When I won the scholarship it was monumental for me. It gave me the opportunity I was never afforded as a child in the system.

The scholarship really changed my ability to provide for my family, pay my tuition and for the things I needed,” she said. “Without that I would never have made it through. To be able to walk away with a degree without any debt is great, I cannot thank WSOS enough.”

JoAnna Edwards,
Career & Technical Scholar
Majoring in Automotive Technology
South Seattle College