Community2Campus kicked off the fall semester with a luncheon honoring its 2013-2014 re-entry scholarship winners. On Sept. 5, the winners noshed and mingled with scholarship donors, representatives from the scholarship selection committee, and university representatives. The lunch was an opportunity to express thanks, share stories, and connect with other scholarship winners.
The atmosphere was one of palpable gratitude. Re-entry scholarships provide a lifeline for students trying to balance home life, work, and school. Some awards were just enough to cover the cost of books; other students were able to cover most of their tuition. In all, 31 re-entry students received $115,775 in financial support for the 2013-2014 academic year thanks to the Bernard Osher Re-entry Scholarship, UNLV Foundation Board of Trustees Re-entry Scholarship, and the Re-entry Friendship Scholarship.
For all the recipients, though, their scholarship offered more than money—it was also a vote of confidence. Over and over again, the students commented on the importance of knowing someone believed in their ability to complete their education and make a positive impact on their community and family. Dawn Matusz shares her story.
Luncheon attendees also heard about the educational journey of past scholarship winner Dawn Hathaway Thoman. After returning to UNLV as a re-entry student, Dawn graduated with the support of a Bernard Osher Re-entry Scholarship. She is now attending UNLV Boyd School of Law.
Commitment to community and family is a distinguishing characteristic of the scholarship group. On the surface, recipients are earning degrees in diverse fields. When the group is looked at collectively, however, Community2Campus Executive Director Liz Baldizan sees patterns emerge that tie many of the recipients together -- returning to complete their education because they want to serve their community in some way. “These students are very other-centered. Many have strong ties to Las Vegas and want to use their education to give back locally,” said Baldizan. In one-on-one meetings, students tell Baldizan their degrees in education, social work, nutrition, business, law, and political science (among others) will be put to use right here in the Las Vegas Valley.
Baldizan also offered insights on what motivates community members to donate specifically to re-entry scholarship programs. The ability to give in any amount plays a key role in donors’ decisions. They are also attracted by the opportunity to direct funds toward a specific student population such as single mothers, first responders, or future educators.
For more information about UNLV’s re-entry scholarship programs, contact Liz Baldizan at 702-774-4626 or Elizabeth.Baldizan@unlv.edu.