This month on Sept. 17, Party on the Plaza returns to Newman University with its final Renaissance flair. The event boasts dinner, drinks, entertainment and an atmosphere of medieval revelry that is sure to delight attendees.
In addition to being a wonderful way for alumni and friends of the university to spend a Saturday evening, the profits from tickets and auction items directly benefit many students.
Funding student scholarships
An abundant college education
Like many individuals, Eliana Gaytan knows college is expensive.
“But there’s no doubt that receiving a Catholic education that forms the whole person in mind, body and spirit is worth the price,” Gaytan said.
Gaytan, a first-year Newman student, would not have the opportunity to continue her Catholic education were it not for the St. Newman scholarship. The St. Newman Scholarship is Newman’s highest valued award, which provides full tuition for four years to each student. The scholarship is named for St. John Henry Newman, namesake of Newman University.
Being a recipient of the substantial scholarship allows Gaytan to spend less time working extra hours to pay off tuition and loans, and more time for on-campus involvement. She participates in Campus Ministry, works in the admissions office and is a member of Metanoia, the Catholic living community on campus. Gaytan also has hopes to become involved as a writer for The Vantage as well as a member of the Multicultural Leadership Organization.
“Without the support of donors at events like Party on the Plaza, these scholarships would not be available to help aid families in affording an abundant college education for their son or daughter,” Gaytan explained. “Your financial support — however much that is you feel you are or have been called to give — as well as your prayers, extend beyond just the Wichita and Kansas community. They also reach out-of-state and international students and their families who are seeking a well-rounded, wholly formative experience at a university.”
Ticket sales, sponsorship, bids on live and silent auction items and even outright donations are all helpful methods to support student scholarships. Serving as a Party on the Plaza volunteer is also incredibly meaningful.
“Volunteering for Party on the Plaza gifts you the opportunity to personally engage with someone who has helped make reaching your dreams possible,” Gaytan said. “It is a blessing to be able to meet and serve someone who has helped bring you to Newman. Although they may never know you personally or individually, meeting you also gifts them the opportunity to realize just how far their gifts go to impact the lives of students.”
Preparing successful professionals
Senior Lauren Esfeld, a biology major with a concentration in pre-optometry with a minor in business communication, is grateful to be the recipient of both academic and athletic scholarships at Newman University.
“Scholarships were a big contributor in me coming to Newman because that helped bring the cost down a lot,” Esfeld said. “My coach, Shella Augspurger, recruited me for tennis and that athletic scholarship helped bring the cost down even more.”
Thanks in part to each of her scholarships, Esfeld has blossomed as an involved student and leader across campus. She is serving her second year as president of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, works as a student ambassador for the admissions office and is a part of the President’s Student Cabinet. Esfeld is also a facilitator for Traditions and Transitions, a program for first-year students which aids in the transition from high school to college.
“I like to tell them that I’m like the older sister that they can go to for any school needs,” Esfeld said. “So I’ll teach a couple classes here and there and serve as the connection between professors and students to help them learn how Newman operates and how to be a successful student.”
Esfeld knows exactly what she would say to thank Newman supporters like those who participate in Party on the Plaza.
“Thank you so much,” she said. “I have always wanted a college education and I want to keep going on and get my doctorate in optometry. Being able to cut the cost down, being able to have those scholarships so I’m not in debt for years and years means the world to me. I want to be a successful professional in the future, but I wouldn’t be able to get there without scholarships.”
Esfeld highly encourages students to volunteer for Party on the Plaza.
“You get to interact with people who are making those scholarships available for you,” she said. “These donors are providing you with the education that you’ve probably always wanted throughout your entire life, and at such a special school.”
Recent graduates share sentiments
By Matthew Clark, Aug 27, 2021
Carolina Mariscal — who graduated in May with degrees in biology and psychology — received a full ride to Newman, which would not have been possible without the funds from events like Party on the Plaza.
“I am a recipient of the St. Newman Scholarship, and that was one of the biggest determining factors in coming to Newman, as it made tuition much less of a financial burden,” Mariscal said.
While she likely would have commuted to and from campus without her scholarship, being a St. Newman recipient allowed her to live on campus, which led to greater immersion in academic and social life.
“My scholarship required me to live on campus, and that is an experience I would not have had otherwise because I would have just lived at home. Living on campus has allowed me to be so much more engaged in school and be able to use the campus more than commuter students.
“Also, through the Newman Scholarship, I got matched up with my roommate Gabby Alténor in my freshman year. I wouldn’t have gotten as close to her if it wasn’t for being roommates.”
Savana Tholken ’21 also received scholarship opportunities funded by Party on the Plaza. Tholken was an Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC) Community Leadership Scholar.
Being an ASC Community Leadership Scholar exposes students to humanitarian efforts, allowing them to assist and improve their community.
“We give back to our community through Newman or through other nonprofit organizations each year by volunteering up to 90 hours. Being a part of that effort has been amazing.”
Providing opportunities to transform society
Tholken worked with women attempting to leave abusive relationships through StepStone Ministries, a collaborative ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph and the ASC sisters. StepStone’s mission is to “respond to the critical needs of survivors of domestic violence by providing supporting services and transitional housing to nurture lives of stability and hope.”
“I made an impact at StepStone, and I have also volunteered 200 hours through Newman at (Ascension) Via Christi, where I was able to talk to doctors, nurses and patients, and just do my best to be an example for Newman.”
Tholken’s nursing studies have led to fruitful vocational opportunities beyond Newman. She passed her board exams upon graduation and will soon be employed at a local surgery and ambulatory center as a circulating nurse.
“Newman University is more than just a school to me. It is a place where I have found community, it is a place where I have married the love of my life, and it’s a place that I’m going to visit for the rest of my life and someday show to my children.”
Make a degree of difference today
Attending Party on the Plaza is just one way to financially support current and future Newman students. All money raised at Party on the Plaza goes directly toward student financial aid.
Reservations are required for Party on the Plaza: Return to the Renaissance, and the final day to reserve tickets is Friday, Sept. 16. Renaissance-style costumes are encouraged, but not required. Tickets may be purchased at wichitapop.com or by contacting Laura Hartley at 316-942-4291 ext. 2161.
Special thanks to Dale Withers and David (’01, ’11) and Glenna Borho for being this year’s VIP Sponsors of Party on the Plaza. View the full list of presenting, event and community sponsors, as well as the schedule of events at wichitapop.com.
Reserve your Party on the Plaza tickets today
All money raised at Party on the Plaza goes toward Newman University student financial aid.