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IU Northwest celebrates student scholarships at annual event

Chancellor bestows highest honor to campus supporters; students share inspiring stories of gratitude and success

Friday Nov 14, 2014

Indiana University Northwest thanked its donors, friends and alumni at its annual celebration of student scholarships on Thursday, Nov. 13.

The event, at which donors and scholarship recipients came together to celebrate the significance of philanthropy, provided an opportunity for attendees to learn about the profound difference the gift of a scholarship makes for an individual.

Vanessa Allen, a member of the IU Northwest Board of Advisors and president and chief executive officer of the Urban League of Northwest Indiana, opened the evening’s remarks. She talked about the deep impact the gift of a scholarship can make – an impact that runs much deeper than just easing the financial burdens of the more than 300 students who received scholarships over the past year.

“Your support is not helping just one student, but it is compounded; assisting all those people that, that student will interact with in their lives,” Allen said. “… Your philanthropic spirit empowers our students. They now have access to the tools, resources and confidence to give back to this world. And, that my friends, is impact that cannot be measured.”

Allen said she personally understands the challenges IU Northwest students face while pursuing their degree. She herself was an adult learner, she disclosed, working to earn her degree while raising two daughters and working full-time. She knows firsthand how appreciated scholarship support is to students who are balancing many commitments.

Scholarship recipients share their personal stories

To illustrate the real-life impact one’s gift can make, four students shared their personal stories in a video created for the event. In it, they talked about how the scholarships they received enabled them to concentrate more readily on their academic success rather than the stress of paying for their education.

Those featured include: Siddarth Bangar, of Dyer, Chase Scholarship and Indian Medical Association of Northwest Indiana; Crystal Collins, of Merrillville, IU Northwest Medical Education Scholarship and Mildred Paich Scholarship; Dylan Sheets, of Hebron, Peggy Gordon Elliott Scholarship; and Datianna Tillman, of Gary, Sylvia Doyne Collins Education Scholarship.

IU Northwest Chancellor William J. Lowe acknowledged these students for sharing their personal stories and applauded their own commitment to serving others. He said they are representative of the entire student body.

Ensuring access to education for a diverse population

Lowe noted that more than half of IU Northwest’s population are students of color, two-thirds are women, and one-third are aged 26 or older. He said that students who attend full-time do so at the minimum of 12 semester hours, which reflects their many employment and family commitments.

“Enabling students that fit this profile to complete their degrees is crucial,” Lowe said, “particularly since the future demography of American college students will soon look very much like IU Northwest. Unless the diverse students of our nation see the value in a degree, and have the opportunity to succeed academically and complete their degrees, none of the nation’s goals for increasing numbers of college graduates are attainable, or even meaningful.”

Broad-reaching benefits

In addition to supporting the students through scholarships, Lowe emphasized that giving also impacts the advancement of the campus and the programs it provides to further student success.

Lowe summarized some highlights of recent growth at the IU Northwest campus, including the approved design of the upcoming Arts and Sciences building, in partnership with Ivy Tech Community College Northwest, which will be constructed beginning in 2015. He discussed the commitment students and faculty members have toward service and engagement to their community, exhibited by the more than 127,000 service hours they’ve given to local organizations and businesses over the past year.

The Chancellor’s Medallion

As the evening’s highlight, Lowe honored four supporters who have rendered distinguished service to the University and the community by bestowing his highest honor, The Chancellor’s Medallion.

“These honorees have all rendered distinguished service to the University and the Northwest Indiana community,” Lowe said. “Their efforts and exemplary philanthropy have been instrumental in advancing IU Northwest and, in particular, supporting our greatest asset, our students.”

The recipients are: Dave and Louise Allard, Tom and Sylvia Collins, Al Reichle and Lynn Gassoway Reichle, and Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana.

Lowe noted the very specific and individual reasons that each recipient has for giving of their time, talent and treasure to IU Northwest.

“While some are IU alumni, wanting to ensure others have the same collegiate experience as they did, others simply recognize and appreciate the value of an IU degree,” Lowe said. “We all give for different reasons, but the common bond or thread amongst all donors is their desire to have a transformative effect on someone, or something,” Lowe said.

Lowe reminded the attendees that in addition to providing financial support, there are many ways to support IU Northwest. Whether it is volunteering for an alumni or advisory board, attending events on campus, or simply spreading the word about IU Northwest’s high-quality programs and first-rate academic experience, all can contribute to student success.

“As we close this evening, I would like to urge you all to think about how you, in your own ways, are being an agent of change too,” he said, “Individually we can make a difference. Collectively we can help transform our Northwest Indiana region.”

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