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Class act: Longtime Nevada Union district scholarship coordinator retires

Jennifer Nobles
Staff Writer
Barbara Ross has been a staple among Nevada County students who have sought scholarships for higher education for the past 17 years. Ross is planning on leaving her position this summer to embrace retirement with her husband in Wyoming.
Elias Funez/efunez@theunion.com

Some people spend their entire lives searching for their calling, the reason they were put on this Earth.

For Barbara Ross, however, her purpose has been evident for quite some time: she is here to help people.

For the past 17 years, Ross has served as the district scholarship and fund development coordinator for the Nevada Joint Union High School District.

Ross’ responsibilities have been extensive. As the district scholarship fund development coordinator, Ross helps to find grants or money for various uses by the district schools. The needs could be had by students, teachers, staff, or athletics. These types of funds are intended for the overall wellbeing of the schools.

In her designation as scholarship coordinator, Ross met with people — mainly students, parents, and donors — and educated them on the many intricacies of the scholarship process. She taught them how scholarships work, and helped students find scholarships and financial aid to fit their needs. She facilitated new and existing scholarships, and served as coordinator for the Rotary Youth Achievement.

With her help, the district scholarship list has grown drastically and exponentially since she began in her role. In the 2017-18 school year, Ross helped facilitate over 125 new scholarships that are handled by the district. Over the past 13 years, over $112 million in scholarships and grants have been given to district students, all through community donors.

On June 29, Ross will serve her last day at her position with the district. She and her husband Ted are making a big move to Wyoming, where Ross will retire. As much as she can, anyway.

“I don’t know,” Ross said with a laugh. “Right after I found the house I found a job for an event coordinator/fund development coordinator for a nonprofit and I told my husband and he said no. And my friends said no. They said, just retire.”

Kimala DeSena will take over Ross’ role, with a few days to train under her predecessor.

Ross has seen her job as a way to serve her community by helping kids get a higher education. Many of the recipients of scholarships would not be able to attend college, and Ross has found great joy in helping so many achieve their goals.

Through tear-filled eyes, Ross explained she could not have done her job as successfully without the aid of a network of generous volunteers who help with everything from setting up Scholarship Night to reviewing applications. She named Dee Alcott-Rodriguez and Darleen Won-Golder as just two of many stand-out volunteers who have donated their time.

“I couldn’t have done any of it without the help of the community,” Ross said. “And the help of some really steadfast, incredible volunteers. They have been with me for a really long time.”

Over the years, there has been little that has kept Ross from performing her duties. Even while battling cancer, Ross only missed two days at work, and said her illness helped her realize her purpose.

Her realization was, “God is helping people through me.”

Mike Dobbins, president of Penn Valley Rotary — of which Ross is a member ­— said, “This community has no idea just how much this lady has contributed to its future and our children. The volume of scholarships has multiplied by the hundreds because of her effort and skill. (Hers are) big shoes to fill.”

Though she is naturally sad about leaving the community she has called home since 1982, Ross is thankful for the opportunities she has been given to help those in need.

“There’s a lot of moving parts to this,” said Ross. “I’ve loved it. I make sure to try to help everybody.”

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com or 530-477-4231.

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