Technology grant gifts are life changing for students

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Shelly Birkelo
Thursday, December 12, 2013

JANESVILLE—Fany Cortes seldom had access to a laptop computer that belonged to her sister.

Kylah Scales used to have to impose on others so she could get computer and Internet access.

Today the two, who graduated high school last spring, don't have to leave the comfort of their homes thanks to technology awards--computers and accessories--they received from the Alpha Iota Janesville Chapter of Delta Kappa International.

The local group of women educators applied for a Delta Kappa Gamma Educational Foundation Grant and was awarded $900 for their first Helping Homeless Students Succeed in College project.

Initially, chapter members thought they'd only have enough money to help one girl. But after getting some exceptional prices on laptops and an additional $200 contribution from members, they were able to help two.

Cortes, 19, Janesville, received a laptop and carrying case plus the Microsoft Office suite. Scales, 18, Beloit, received a laptop, printer, USB cable, carrying case, paper, printer ink and a four-year subscription to Microsoft Office.

Both girls, now students at UW-Rock County, were excited when they learned they would receive such generous gifts.

"I was pretty shocked," Cortes said.

"I was really surprised," Scales added.

The computers have been life-changing for the girls, who said they never could have afforded the price for their new technology.

"I couldn't live without it and wouldn't be able to do my homework without it," Cortes said.

That's because she is enrolled in a math class that is only offered online.

Scales also has two classes and other assignments that only are available online.

"I take all my math tests online and do all my chapter work online. And for my English class I write so many papers. I use Microsoft Word most every week for rewriting and editing," she said.

Previously, Scales had to use a school computer of one owned by a friend. Scales said she always felt like she was imposing on others and never had enough time to finish what needed to be done.

"Now I don't have to rely one anyone else and spend more time on my homework and less time trying to get access to a computer," she said.

Retired teachers and Alpha Iota local chapter members of Delta Kappa Gamma Jean Schollmeier and Janet Bishop wrote the technology grant.

"Our chapter promotes literacy, so we're always looking to see what we can do to promote education and literacy," Schollmeier said. "After reading an article about homeless kids--especially ones working hard to do more for themselves--piqued our interest. We wanted to encourage students to continue their education to be able to get jobs that will take them out of the homeless community and be more productive members of society."

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Janesville Iota Chapter, which does other good deeds in the community. These include providing a bookshelf and books for each new Habitat for Humanity family plus providing homework supplies at shelters and for kids in school.

Chapter members were impressed with their first technology award recipients--Cortes and Scales--who Schollmeier described as "delightful."

"They've both been in and out of homeless situations and luckily have loving parents who care about what happens to them," she said.

Fortunately for them, members of Alpha Iota care, too.

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