Paul Brocker has taken over as Aspire Arizona Foundation’s president with lots of plans on how to increase scholarships for local students.
Aspire Arizona raises money for scholarships to send local high school students to the EAC-Payson community college for dual-credit courses.
“The students can take up to three credit hours a semester,” said Brocker.
Aspire pays for those core classes necessary to graduate with a college degree including English, math, science and social studies.
“We’re covering the core classes,” said Brocker.
The Arizona universities accept these dual credits as part of a graduation requirement. The credit hours some students accrue from EAC-Payson enable them to shave off years or semesters of their college expenses.
Some students graduate from high school with an associate degree, which covers the first two years of college. The reduction in living and tuition expenses has saved some Payson families thousands of dollars.
Brocker hopes to make the community more aware of what Aspire Arizona does and expand its scholarship fund.
“We’re trying to raise $50,000 this year,” he said.
Aspire has an annual fall mail fundraising drive, but Brocker hopes to expand the base of supporters by making more connections in town.
Brocker brings years of local volunteer experience to Aspire. He started with the organization at its inception, but backed off to serve as the president of the Tonto Community Concert Association.
Once he moved on from that presidential responsibility, Aspire snatched him up to serve as its president.
Brocker has a firm commitment to the benefits of a higher education. He had a 25-year career in higher education administration in Colorado before he and his wife Jan retired to Payson. Jan now serves as a board member for the community college.
During his career at Regis University, Paul saw many work-study students in his office.
“They would come in being timid and not sure of what they really wanted to do, and by the time they graduated they had some direction of where they wanted to go,” he said.
As president of Aspire, Paul still has an opportunity to hear from students at the annual Aspire Arizona breakfast.
“When you have a chance to sit and talk to the kids, they talk about the experience and how it changes their life,” he said.
But the good news doesn’t stop with the breakfast.
One student who graduated from Payson in 2016 recently wrote to Aspire to announce she would graduate soon with two degrees. She gave high praise to Aspire for the financial impact it made on her college experience.
But Aspire could not be as effective as it is without the support of the MHA Foundation, said Paul.
“MHA provides the backroom administrative support for us,” he said.
All the dollars Aspire Arizona raises go to students.
“We have one job, raise funds for the kids,” he said. “Nothing beyond that.”