Guest column: Generous donors changing lives at Lake Tahoe Community College — 1 student at a time (opinion)

Donors to the Lake Tahoe Community College (LTCC) Foundation are changing the lives of our local students.

Kimberly Barnett-Burton, a South Tahoe High School graduate and single mom of a young son, is now an LTCC graduate who dreams of earning her bachelor's degree and the knowledge and skills to get a well-paying job to support her family.

Last year, Kimberly's second at LTCC, she took a big step toward her dream when she earned her associates degree while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. This academic year, with childcare support from family and financial support from donors to the LTCC Foundation, Kimberly is working toward her BA degree right here in Tahoe.

Kimberly's mom cares for her grandson while Kimberly works full time cleaning vacation rental homes and goes to school. For Kimberly's academic achievement, the LTCC Foundation awarded her with $5,500 in scholarships. Generous individuals and businesses donated the scholarship funds, which are helping Kimberly afford the higher tuition costs of her final two years of study to get her bachelor's degree.

The most important support helping Kimberly to reach her dream comes from Lisa Maloff, the angel of Tahoe. Lisa gave $5.8 million to establish the Lisa Maloff University Center at Lake Tahoe Community College. The university center will open this fall and will host schools including Sierra Nevada College and Brandman University, both of which will offer four-year and certificate degrees.

Now, thanks to Lisa Maloff's generous donation, students like Kimberly, who have a local support network and cannot leave Tahoe to attend college, can achieve their educational dreams in their hometown.

The university center is one of many exciting changes and upgrades taking place at LTCC made possible by generous community members.

Local businesses and individuals donated funds to commission an artist to sculpt and cast a bronze coyote statue, which will be installed between LTCC's state of the art soccer field and the physical education building this June. Paver stones engraved with the donors' messages will encircle the coyote.

The LTCC mascot "coming to life" on campus is an important symbol of school and community pride to help raise awareness and build excitement about the affordable, quality higher education option available right here in South Lake Tahoe.

You can support students like Kimberly in a number of ways through the LTCC Foundation. You can give a $250 donation for an engraved paver at the Coyote Legacy Plaza, make a direct donation of any amount, or attend the LTCC Foundation's annual fundraiser, Taste of Gold on Saturday, July 21, from 6 to 9 p.m. on campus in the demonstration garden.

Nancy Harrison is the executive director of the Lake Tahoe Community College Foundation. For more information on how to support LTCC students and programs, contact the LTCC Foundation by calling 530-541-4660 ext. 245 or emailing