Newman University hosted its annual Scholarship Luncheon on April 15, giving students a chance to meet the donors responsible for their scholarships.
A total of 39 donors and donor representatives attended the luncheon and 48 students joined them.
Students in attendance said they were happy to have the chance to meet the individuals responsible for scholarships they were benefiting from.
During the luncheon, Newman junior Thao Nguyen spoke to the audience as a scholarship recipient, telling his story and that of his family.
Nguyen’s grandfather moved to America before his family until he could earn enough for them to join him. Nguyen talked about his parents’ adaptation to American life and their journey to obtain associate degrees at community colleges so they could make a better life for their family.
“The dream for them was no longer to just live in America — it was to work and hope to create a better life for their own children,” said Nguyen. “When I think about what this scholarship means to me … I think about how difficult it must have been for my parents to grow up in a dichotomy of cultures, both Vietnamese and American.
“Scholarships, like other generous gifts, open doors for students like me to make dreams a reality. For students like me, the first in their family to hopefully obtain a four-year degree, it is a momentous step in the paradigm of the Vietnamese and American immigration story.”
Nguyen continued by talking about his Newman experience.
“My time at Newman … has been an amazing experience and journey. I’ve been able to form such close friendships with so many beautiful and aspiring students. I’ve grown confident that the faculty here are here for the students … and care that we learn and grow and that we are empowered to transform society. It is because of the scholarships and the generosity of donors like those of you here that this has ever been possible.”
Alicia Camacho, a senior who will obtain her Bachelor of Science in Counseling with a concentration in addiction studies this spring, said she was nervous at first to meet the donors of her scholarship.
“I was nervous at first (to meet them) but immediately they were both very welcoming and really wanted to learn about me and where I come from,” said Camacho. “It became so comfortable, I felt like I was talking to my family. Just getting to learn about their story and how and why they created the scholarship … and to be able to tell them how much this scholarship helped me attend Newman was an amazing experience.”
Camacho’s scholarship, the Katherine and George B. Collins Endowed Scholarship Fund, was made possible by the children of the late George B. Collins and Katherine Collins. Mr. Collins was one of the first lay members of the College of Directors.
Brothers Bernard and Robert “Bob” Collins were able to attend the luncheon to meet Camacho in person.
“They created it in remembrance of their dad. They wanted to contribute to something that was important to him and Newman was one of those things.
“I think the most exciting thing was to talk to them about how in my family, we didn’t necessarily graduate from high school let alone go to college. And so for myself, along with my family, being able to attend Newman and graduate is just so amazing and I’m so proud that I’m able and that I’ve been given the opportunity to do that. I’m a first-generation graduate in my household and in my family.
Professor Larry Heck, Ph.D., also spoke to the audience at the luncheon. He explained that giving back to Newman was something he and his late wife, Robbie, were proud of.
“We both have a great appreciation for Newman University and its mission. We both wanted to help students needing financial assistance. In 1987, president Robert Giroux helped us set up our scholarship and we’ve been contributing ever since.”
Heck added that providing scholarship funds to students was also full of rewards.
“We do get much in return. At this point, we’re able to help two students each year. And we believe we help them realize their dreams and aspirations. We like knowing the students. We like sitting at the table with them. We also like being able to support the mission of Newman University. And finally, we like it that in some small way, we are able to leave something behind, a little bit of a legacy that will always be here to help students.”
Rob Shipley, a school counselor, traveled from Olathe, Kansas to attend the luncheon as a representative for the Nate Shipley Memorial Nursing Scholarship. He explained the scholarship was developed after the passing of his brother, Nate.
“We come from a service-minded family. We have nurses, teachers, coaches, so with Nate having Leukemia and the treatment that he received and those who helped him when he was sick, it made the decision easy to create a scholarship for this service-based industry.”
The recipient of the scholarship was in class and couldn’t attend the luncheon, but Shipley said he met a student in the nursing program and said it was a joy to meet that student and hear their story.
“To be able to know that they are here and appreciative — just knowing that it’s well-received and used in a manner that helps them, that’s a great feeling. I think for us, it was a tragic situation that brought the scholarship about, but even out of tragedy there is triumph. Once you realize that you can really make a difference, it’s a great way to honor someone and leave a legacy.”
Newman University offers more than 190 scholarships arranged by generous donors. To learn more about how to give or establish a scholarship, visit give.newmanu.edu.