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Questa Foundation Part 2: Non-Traditional Student Perspective

February 17th, 2016


News Coverage:

February 16, 2016

Questa Foundation Part 2: Non-Traditional Student Perspective

Sara Wagner

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Affording college can be difficult at any time in your life, but it can get even harder as the years go by and the responsibilities add up. That’s where the Questa Foundation is stepping in to help students of all ages.

Questa offers different types of loans depending on a student’s situation. The money can go towards any public or private institution in Indiana, but the regional schools will also help pay parts of the loan. By attending a regional school and staying in the region for five years, students can get up to 75-percent of the loan forgiven. More than 2/3 of Questa scholars stay in the region.

The terms traditional and non-traditional students may be more common. However, Questa prefers to call non-traditional students contemporaries, meaning higher education shouldn’t just be reserved for one certain time in your life, but rather accessible at any age.

Guadalupe Callejas is a prime example of that. The sights and sounds of the traditional American factory are both central to Callejas’ upbringing and life.

“I graduated from high school back in 1986. I tried to go to school right after high school, but I ended up following my parents back to the factory and then just stayed there,” Callejas said.

When the 47-year-old got laid off three years ago, he knew it was time to make a change.

“I was starting to find out that I didn’t have any skills. You can say you have Excel experience or PowerPoint experience, inventory and geometric practices, but you have to have the certificates,” Callejas said. “I found a barrier. I wasn’t getting the jobs that I needed.”

The self-trained painter connected with Questa and the rest is, well, history

“When I came to Questa, I was laid off but I had still made a lot of money the year before. So, I wasn’t going to get any pell grants, and I was afraid of student loans. So, after I read the 75% forgiveness deal, I got excited,” Callejas said. “I’m about the graduate. I’m happy. Ivy Tech has been good. It’s a great school.”

The business administration major is already putting that degree to good use. After making the Dean’s List three times, he launched his own company in January.

“We’re doing parking lots and handicapped stenciling,” Callejas said. “The future has a horizon nowadays. My future was bleak. I had no skills. Most of my life I was a quality technician or production lead, but still I couldn’t get those jobs just coming in. Here I am because of these folks, I’m looking forward, can’t look back no more.”

Callejas now gets to leave a legacy in the city he knows and loves

“To stay here where my parents came in 1949 and be a part of this community, I’m happy. My grandfather is buried here, and it’s almost like a love story,” Callejas said. “It’s possible. You know, your dreams can come true. You work hard, you learn, you research, and follow your dreams. It’s reachable.”

Callejas’ story is just one example of what Questa can do for the region and those proud to call it home.

“When people and employers are looking to grow in this community, start up a business in this community, or relocate to this community, they’re looking at the resume of our region. Part of our resume is our workforce. So, we’re really building up the economic viability of the northeast region by helping people attain higher education whether that’s an associate’s degree, a trade certification, a bachelor’s degree, it’s all good for the region,” Questa Foundation Board Chair Jon Steiner said. “It makes college more affordable. The forgiveness aspect of Questa is really compelling. We want to keep kids in this region. So, if young people want to get a college education, we’ve got the funding for it.”

Questa’s application window for contemporary students is open all year long. Click here for more information.

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