Scholarship recipient Q&A: Elementary Education student Ellie Nowak

Ellie Nowak

Kellogg Community College Foundation Gold Key Scholarship recipient Ellie Nowak graduated from Olivet High School in 2020 and is studying elementary education at KCC with the goal of transferring to Grand Valley State University to continue her studies.

Below, Nowak answers some questions about her experiences as a student at KCC and specifically as a Gold Key Scholarship recipient.

What does being a Gold Key Scholar mean to you?

Being a Gold Key Scholar means a great deal to me because it shows the support of my community. It proves to me that even if I don’t think I am capable at times, others here at KCC believe that I have the ability to succeed. It means a lot to have that type of encouragement. It also means that I am able to focus on school instead of worrying about balancing work and my education.

What is your favorite thing about the Gold Key Scholarship program?

My favorite thing about the scholarship program is that it has allowed me to meet so many amazing people. Without it, I feel like I would have only come to campus to attend class. Due to the commitments that I made because of Gold Key requirements, I am on campus all the time and interacting with new people every day. The scholarship program has made my experience here at KCC better than I could have ever hoped for.

What is something you learned from your scholarship program leadership, enrichment or service activities?

One major thing that I learned about leadership is that it is not as straightforward as one initially thinks. There are many different styles of leadership. I always thought that because I wasn’t like the stereotypical leader, that meant that I was a follower by default. However, I learned that is not the case and that I can consider myself a leader. This realization changed my perspective on other issues as well because it showed me that there are different ways to approach any situation. There isn’t just one right way to do things

What is one thing you learned about yourself through your development activities as a Gold Key Scholar?

I learned the most about myself through the enrichment activities. The point of the enrichment activity was to try something new every semester. It could be as small as starting a new habit of journaling every morning or going skydiving for the first time. I learned that it is important to challenge myself and try new things often.

My enrichment activity this semester was joining the cross country team. I ran in high school but I never thought I would continue to run in college. I was very hesitant about joining and it took a lot of courage to convince myself to do it. In hindsight, it was probably the best decision I have made in a long time. I believe that the most important lesson I have learned this semester is to always try new things because you never know how amazing it could turn out to be.

What is a special memory or experience you’ve had that wouldn’t have happened if not for the Gold Key Scholarship program?

If it weren’t for the Gold Key Scholarship program, I wouldn’t have gone out of my comfort zone and joined the Kampus Activities Board or cross country. KAB has taught me a lot about leadership and it has been so much fun working together as a team to plan activities for the school. Cross country has provided me with the most special memories that I will cherish for a long time. One memory, in particular, would be traveling to nationals in Georgia with Ava and the Finnilas

What do you ultimately want to do for a career, and why did you choose that profession?

My dream career is to become a teacher. I chose this profession because while growing up, I got the chance to watch both my mom and aunt teach. It is amazing to see what an impact a good teacher has on students. Teachers do so much more than just teach the basic curriculum. One day I hope I will be able to help students use their passions and strengths to make the world a better place

KCC Foundation scholarship applications for new, returning and graduating KCC students are available now and can be completed entirely online for free. Visit for links to scholarship applications and more information about scholarships for KCC students.

The photo of Nowak above is courtesy of Jasmine McMaster.