Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Frances Fagan

Frances Fagan is PCC-proud. Born in Hood River, she moved often, attending six schools by middle school. She believed that she didn’t need a formal education to succeed in life because when she had a question, she took initiative to find the answer.

Frances spent years volunteering and traveling the world as a snowboard instructor, and was training to become a tattoo artist when suddenly her life was in turmoil. After she suffered severe seizures, she received a diagnosis of brain cancer. Frances needed surgery, extensive physical therapy and occupational rehabilitation to regain her fine motor skills. During recovery, Frances went back to what she knew as a curious girl: learning through volunteerism. Through her experiences she began to yearn for a deeper understanding of life, and more importantly, she wanted to change the world. She knew she had to start somewhere.

That somewhere was PCC. Entering college with a 5th grade math level, she found PCC a challenge but was determined to succeed by utilizing PCC resources such as the Transitions Program, ROOTS, and the Tutoring and Counseling Centers. Leaning on all available services, Frances was selected as a scholarship recipient during her second term, a surprise to her given her background and 1.7 grade point average at the time. She states that this was a turning point and a deep source of motivation.

Someone out there, a complete stranger, had faith in me when I didn’t even have faith in myself. The scholarship allowed me time to focus on my studies, take a heavier class load and do as well as I possibly could in my coursework. But in all honesty, the money was not as important to me as the gesture (of faith), and it was a true honor for me to be selected.

Frances’ scholarship inspired her to excel in her studies from then on, and she graduated this June from the PCC Honors Program with a GPA of 3.9. After multiple offers from Ivy League universities, Frances is on her way to Yale in the fall to continue her research on how library systems can be implemented in refugee camps at Yale’s Ethnicity, Race, and Migration Program.

The generosity of donors helps to launch the education and careers of countless students like Frances, who have big dreams and limitless talent. Thank you for your support.

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