College Photographer Val Nyce Pays It Forward

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Scholarship Supports Students Who Overcome Challenges

For 17 years, Valerie Nyce has been on the edge of College of Southern Maryland events, quietly capturing history from behind her camera in her role as the college’s lead photography coordinator. Now, Nyce is securing a spot in CSM’s future by creating both a scholarship and an endowment to provide CSM students with the funds they need to attend the college.

“This is my way of giving back to the community, and I wanted to be sure it was something that would help the community as a whole,” Nyce said.

While getting to know students each semester at CSM, Nyce said she has learned it is often difficult for them to pay for the education they need to reach their potential in life and she wanted to help them in a way that would last beyond her tenure at CSM.

The Nyce Annual Scholarship provides either $1,600 for an entire year or $800 for a semester at the college to a recipient who is a resident of Calvert, Charles or St. Mary’s County, has a high school diploma or equivalent, is a CSM student and has at least a 2.5 grade point average. The funds can be used for tuition, fees, books and other supplies that might be needed for CSM courses.

 “Val has been creating the image of CSM for 17 years through her unsurpassed talents. She is someone everyone loves and appreciates,” said CSM’s Vice President of Advancement Michelle Goodwin. “We are grateful for her unrelenting commitment and support of CSM and our community.”

The first recipient of the scholarship was Diane Payne of Waldorf for the Fall 2014 semester. An arts and sciences major with hopes of becoming a photographer, Payne said, “It’s my honor (to be) a recipient of the Nyce Annual Scholarship. The financial assistance will be of great help to me in paying my educational expenses, and it will allow me to graduate next spring.”

While attending CSM, Payne has worked as a student media assistant and benefited from Nyce’s guidance. “She has been a mentor to me by helping me strengthen my talents as a photographer. I truly feel I have found my purpose in life,” Payne said. “In everything that she has taught me, I will take that knowledge with me, and continue to capture many memories.”

Nyce purposely kept the criteria for the scholarship broad to give Southern Maryland residents a chance to earn it. Applicants must submit an essay of at least 200 words that describes their academic goals and how they have overcome a challenge. Nyce said that while the criteria are broad, she is looking for someone who is focused on education and will see his or her classes through to the end, even when the journey may be difficult. Each year’s recipient will be chosen by the CSM Foundation.

“In a way, this endowment is meant to honor my dad,” Nyce said. “He valued education and instilled those values in me.”

Scholarships and endowments at CSM Foundation are sponsored by private organizations, businesses and individuals. Providing financial assistance is an important way for donors to work with the college to develop the area’s next generation of community leaders, nurses, engineers, truck drivers and members of the community to enhance their skills. Many scholarships are available on an on-going basis, however some change each semester or year.

For information on scholarships available through the CSM Foundation or to create an endowment to support CSM students, visit