RANCHO SANTA FE — As an experienced financial planner, Greg Grajek knows a lot about investing. He’s sold on MiraCosta College.Grajek is the president of the Rotary Club of Rancho Santa Fe, which has donated several thousand dollars to the MiraCosta College Foundation this year for student scholarships and veterans’ services. He says giving to the nonprofit arm that raises money for the college is a no-brainer.
“Rotary is all about service above self,” he said, alluding to his organization’s motto. “We’re always looking for other groups and organizations that are applying the same idea in the community, and MiraCosta College is doing that.”
In fact, Rotary of Rancho Santa Fe this past spring donated $1,500 to help fund an ongoing need for emergency assistance for military veterans taking courses at the college where almost 2,800 students are in the military, are military dependents or are military veterans.
The service organization also donated funds to cover five $1,000 Rotary Club of Rancho Santa Fe Scholarships. In its grant application, the MiraCosta College Foundation noted that such scholarships play a key role in helping students afford the costs of a higher education.
“While tuition and fees for a California community college are significantly lower than those for a four-year college or university, these costs represent only a fraction of the total expenses involved in attending a community college, making the price of attendance a hardship for many,” Foundation members wrote. “Fifty-eight percent of MiraCosta students rely primarily on their own income and savings to pay for college. Sixty-five percent of our students are employed, and 43 percent work more than 20 hours per week.”
Grajek is sold for another reason. Half of the Rancho Santa Fe Rotary Club’s members have children who are either enrolled at MiraCosta College, or who have been enrolled in the past.
“We have a direct connection,” Grajek said. “And especially when you consider what they’re doing to help the Marines and what they’re doing to help our servicemen and women, we feel honored to contribute.”
MiraCosta College’s San Elijo Campus is just west of the village of Rancho Santa Fe. And the campus is quickly transforming into a leading transfer-based institution.
“Our students are local, our students are young and our students want to transfer to a four-year college or university,” said Dana Smith, the San Elijo Campus Instructional Dean.
Grajek, a graduate of Michigan State University, says he sometimes wonders why more people don’t start their higher education journey at the community college level. “I see parents everyday struggling to pay these $30,000, $40,000 tuitions,” he said. “There’s no reason to do that, really, when you have an institution like MiraCosta College right up the road.”
“A $1,000 donation to a big university won’t even pay for a parking pass for a year. A $1,000 donation to MiraCosta College is going to go a long way toward paying someone’s tuition for a year. You’re impacting lives,” Grajek said.