Making the world a better place may seem like a daunting task, but when donors give to Newman University, they can witness the effects of their generosity firsthand.
Ninety-nine percent of Newman students receive financial assistance. For many, a private liberal arts education at Newman would not be possible without these helping funds.
The annual scholarship luncheon brought student scholarship recipients and donors face-to-face as they enjoyed an Italian buffet on March 27.
“Any opportunity for the students who benefit from the gifts to connect with their donors really helps tell the story of why that family, individual or company has chosen to donate to Newman,” explained Senior Development Officer Conni Mansaw.
Sophomore Angelica Rodriguez is a biology major with a concentration in pre-medicine and has two minors in Spanish and psychology. She is the recipient of the Adelante Scholarship, a program established by Gene and Yolanda Camarena with the goal of making a college education possible for more Hispanic students.
“It has truly been a gift,” Rodriguez said. “Over COVID, my dad was laid off from his job. I was a senior in high school and that obstacle affected my whole transition to college. So I’m very grateful for all of the donors at Newman.”
The scholarship luncheon made for “a very special experience because we don’t get to see these benefactors every day,” she added.
“It’s a joy to finally meet them, greet them, talk to them and just get to know who they are. I feel like it completely changes the way we see them because we finally have that one-on-one encounter,” Rodriguez said.
Camarena, a donor, first-generation college student and Newman Board of Trustees member, worked as an admissions counselor at Newman in the early 80s.
“Seeing the students that come here, what they’ve accomplished and what they’re doing … it’s always been heartwarming,” Camarena said. “I know how difficult it was to get scholarships and financial aid, so I told myself if I ever got to a position where I could help other students, then I would.”
Meeting student recipients like Rodriguez makes giving even more rewarding.
“When I meet these students and they ask me what motivates me to give, I say, ‘You do.’ Because their success is our success, and that’s the best thing that you can do — share if you have the opportunity to,” Camarena said.
Hayley Stewart, a St. Newman scholarship recipient, enjoyed meeting those who played a role in her Newman experience through their donations. Stewart is currently studying biochemistry with the hopes of attending medical school in the future.
Although she is in her first year of college, a grateful Stewart already plans to give back in the future.
“It’s kind of this abstract situation where, ‘oh, you were given all this money,’ but talking to the donors at my table who genuinely care about my future inspires me to take what I’ve been given and pay it forward,” Stewart said.
Mansaw said the goal of the annual scholarship luncheon is twofold. Not only does it allow donors to see their impact, “but it also fosters an appreciation for the students. And it solidifies our mission for Newman to empower our students to transform society.”
JV Johnston ’82 and his family have a long history at Newman. As a student, Johnston played on the men’s basketball team and met his wife, Veronica. Three of their four sons attended Newman for college.
“We love the mission of Newman and the ASC community,” Johnston said. “Their mission to serve the disadvantaged and underserved is now a part of us, too.”
Johnston and his wife established the Jose and Petra Armendariz Award Fund in honor of Veronica’s parents. Petra had a fourth- or fifth-grade education and raised 10 children on a stringent budget. Jose and Petra believed in the power of education and sent four of their daughters to Sacred Heart Academy and Kansas Newman.
Johnston shared that at a recent funeral, he heard a poem titled “The Dash.”
“It was a wonderful poem that spoke about the dates on your tombstone: the date you were born and the date you died. But those were not the most important things,” he said. “What was most important was the dash between them. The dash represents what we did when we were alive.”
Out of all of life’s big accomplishments — from winning a championship and finishing a marathon to a promotion or the birth of a child — “the second-best feeling you could ever get in your life is when you help someone who has no ability to repay you,” Johnston said. “Whether that’s volunteering as a physician or a nurse at the clinic, going on a mission trip or establishing student scholarships, that’s amazing.”
Johnston ended his speech with a challenge: “What are you going to do with your dash? What difference are you going to make in someone’s life, a student’s life?”
Newman President Kathleen Jagger Ph.D., MPH, expressed her sincere thanks to Newman’s generous donors.
“It is our great mission to make this Catholic values-based education available to students who are interested in that being part of their college experience,” Jagger said.
Jagger explained that Newman’s core values of academic excellence, a Catholic identity, a culture of service and a global perspective are reflected not only in the curriculum, but also “in the role models we have among our faculty and staff here on our campus.”
“So thank you for investing in Newman. Thank you for investing in our students. And for the students who are here, thank you for being part of the progress that we’re making at Newman University. We’re very proud of each and every one of you,” she said.
Establish an endowed scholarship at Newman
The generosity of Newman University’s donors and friends plays a big role in empowering the university’s graduates to transform society.