Paying for high-priced tuition and trying to figure out the future as a high school senior may sound daunting, but Career Center Specialist Mary Buscema has helped many students through this pivotal time while at Williams Field High School in the Higley Unified School District.
Buscema works relentlessly to inform students about available scholarships, sending notes to students she believes may meet the requirements for awards that come across her desk or email. With her help, graduating Black Hawks have received nearly $60 million in scholarship offers since 2010.
Buscema scours the web, calls nonprofit organizations and contacts colleges and universities to learn details about programs and financial assistance offers that may benefit students at Williams Field. Students enter her room each week to seek help on college applications, community service opportunities, job interviews, financial-aid forms and more.
Buscema strives to find scholarships for students based on their interests and strengths. Williams Field High School’s last graduating class received more than $13.6 million in scholarship offers.
“The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the students get recognized for their hard work,” Buscema said. “It really makes me feel like I am making a difference.”
Former Williams Field High School parent Angie Marqueling said her son, Stephen, received more than $7,000 a year to attend college after all of the established fees were accounted for. He is currently a student at Arizona State University.
“It is quite the relief knowing my son can focus solely on academics rather than working the next four years and beyond paying off student loans,” Marqueling said.
In addition to raising scholarship money, Buscema ran the “Stuff the Bus” campaign for several years, relinquishing the task this year to allow more staff to get involved. Through the campaign, Buscema saw students collect 73,600 pounds of food for those in need both during and after holiday seasons.
“Mary’s enthusiasm and commitment to community-over-self, shines as she attends and promotes nearly every outside Williams Field function,” Marqueling said.
Williams Field 2013 graduate Ryan Asistin spoke highly of “Mrs. B” and her assistance during his high school career, especially in terms of pursuing college.
“Mrs. B has had an incredible impact on the person I am today and, without her help, I would probably not have pushed myself to graduate high school and pursue a meaningful future,” Asistin said. “Personally, I was not very driven during the first two years of high school and found it challenging to get out of my shell, socialize, and have confidence in myself, especially in the realm of academics. When I was uncomfortable or did not feel like I was good enough, I often quit what I was doing. This trend was especially prevalent during my junior year. That is when I was fully introduced to Mrs. B. I found it impossible to not hold a smile or to feel down on myself when I was around her. Her passion, dedication, enthusiasm, and positivity were infectious and she helped to motivate me to push myself academically, socially, and mentally. She stood by me and helped build my college portfolio, guided me to community service opportunities, walked me through scholarship applications, and supported me when I felt overwhelmed.”
In December 2016, Asistin will graduate with a nursing degree from Grand Canyon University.
“When I went into her office five years ago, I had no plan to go to college, let alone see myself as a collegiate graduate at the top of my class. Without her guidance, knowledge, and love, I would not be where I am today,” he said.