ARA Foundation vocational/technical scholarship helps Kentucky student
Dereck Colwell, with East Kentucky Rental & Supply in Hazard, Ky., knows the power that a scholarship can bring to students.
Since he joined the rental company more than two years ago, he has progressed to working on and repairing equipment. “I am grateful to Doug [Jones, president] for giving me the job. I really like the rental business and want to stay. I started out coming in after high school and cleaning. Then I started doing other jobs. When they discovered that I enjoyed working on equipment, I started helping the mechanic in the back. I spend most of my time now as a mechanic and also do some deliveries,” Colwell says.
Because of his mechanical inclination and his enjoyment of working on equipment at East Kentucky Rental & Supply, Colwell started at Hazard Community Technical College after high school. Now in his second year, he is studying for his associate’s degree in electricity.
“What I learn at school, I can apply at the rental business. We receive a lot of hands-on training at school, but I also get so much at the business. The other day, there was an electrical short on one of the scissor lifts. I spent a lot of time chasing down that short. Another day, I worked on an excavator. Doug and the rest of the employees have taught me a lot. Working at the rental business has made a big difference and has helped me better understand and apply the concepts we talk about in school,” he says.
At the end of last semester, Jones told Colwell about the scholarship opportunities offered by the ARA Foundation. “When he first told me, I was so busy with work and school that I kept putting it off,” Colwell says. “Doug kept on me. I am very grateful I didn’t blow it off. It was easy to apply. Receiving this scholarship has meant a lot to me.”
The timing of this scholarship was perfect, Colwell notes. “My dad is a coal miner and he was recently laid off. I’ve been trying to help out where I can. He took care of me for 19 years. I need to do the same for him, but I wouldn’t have been able to swing the payment for school without that scholarship. It’s been a big help — paid for half of my tuition,” he says.
Colwell is now juggling work and class, at least 30 hours a week at the store and 16 hours a week at school. “If there is a break at school, I come to the store. I work as many hours as I can because I really enjoy it,” he says.
Colwell says that he strives to do well both in school and at work. “The reason I push so hard and so much at work and school is that my dad and grandpa have always told me to take pride in my work. I do it for them — to show how much I am grateful for and how much I enjoy both,” he says.
Thanks to the scholarship, Colwell is on his way to completing his studies. He has 1½ more semesters before he graduates. After graduation, he wants to stay at East Kentucky Rental & Supply to build his career.
“Each day is different at the rental business. We have such a wide range of equipment that we rent. I like working on all of that equipment. I like the variety,” he says.
Colwell encourages all students to take advantage of the scholarships now offered by the ARA Foundation and its affiliate programs. “Apply. Don’t wait. College is expensive. These scholarships are a big help. I know just how much of a help they are,” he says.
If you are student associated with a rental store or rental manufacturer/supplier and want to go to college or community college as a way to pursue a career in the equipment rental industry, now is the time to take advantage of the scholarships offered by the ARA Foundation and its affiliate programs.
Fifty scholarships worth a total of $65,000 are available.
Go to ARAfoundation.com and select “Foundation Scholarship Program.” Scroll down the page and click on the scholarship application appropriate for your needs.
Once you complete the form and gather your documents, mail all of the information to the ARA Foundation. Make sure the materials are postmarked by Monday, March 3, 2014.
For questions, contact Jenni Venema, ARA Foundation director of development, at 800-334-2177, ext. 236, or email@example.com.