Catto Scholarship Makes the Difference for Students. Meet Annette Ramirez.

May 2, 2024

Students know they’re picking a more affordable option when they choose to enroll at a community college rather than a four-year school. For Annette Ramirez, the cost of tuition paired with the flexibility of classes at Community College of Philadelphia stood out when she was researching colleges after high school.

“It was the least expensive option,” Annette said. “It was more flexible with hours, like having afternoon classes was great for me because I had a kid at home. So that was really amazing.”

The Octavius Catto Scholarship made the decision to enroll even easier. 

“And then I found the Catto Scholarship, which was honestly the reason,” she said, “because they paid for everything for me and I never had to worry about the money.”

While the Catto Scholarship covered tuition and offered a monthly stipend, the costs of living and raising a child were still a factor. Annette worked at a restaurant in South Philadelphia while attending classes.

“[The Catto Scholarship] definitely alleviates the financial aspect of going to college,” she said. “With the stipend, it was amazing because I used that for my transportation needs. I was less pressured to have that job while studying. I could focus more on my studies."

Annette, who started in fall of 2021, is graduating in May from the College’s Medical Laboratory Technician program. When she does, she will be the first in her family to graduate college.

She had taken a year off from school after graduating high school from the Career and Academic Development Institute in Philadelphia before enrolling. She had just had a child and wasn’t sure if she’d end up going back to school. Annette talked with her husband about applying to colleges, and he gave her the encouragement she was looking for.

“He was like, ‘No, go to college. That’s what you’ve always wanted to do. You can still do it,’” she said. “And he helped me research a lot. He was like, ‘You know we can’t really afford for you to go to a four-year college or a four-year university right now, but CCP sounds great.’”

And now that she’s graduating, she’s in a position to land a higher paying job plus she’s planning to achieve a four-year degree, possibly at Thomas Jefferson University or University of Cincinnati. During her time here, Annette said she received a lot of support from the College’s Career Connections department, which provides interview prep and résumé building services as well as a database that directly connects students to employers—support she’s still receiving.

“As someone who didn’t think she was going to go to college, I was like, ‘This is amazing,’” Annette said. “I can get a job. I’m the first in my family to graduate with a degree at all. … To me, it is the proudest moment.”