Student Government Starts New Scholarship

The Class of 2012’s gift looks to give a lasting impact as opposed to the tradition of campus landmarks, according to a new initiative from Student Government, Inc.

A scholarship fund will help eligible juniors going into their senior year who might need extra help, said Senior Senator Ellen McBurney. The juniors must fit a certain criteria and go through an application process.

Applicants are eligible if they have a 3.0 GPA or higher, demonstrate financial need and write out an application, all of which will be examined by a committee.

The committee will be made up of representatives from Student Financial Services, Student Affairs and SGI, McBurney said.

In the past, graduating classes have donated various gifts that are related to the campus. The Class of 2002 donated the marquee above The Little Theatre and the Class of 2009 donated the fire place in the D’Angelo Center’s living room.

Normally, senior donations toward the gift, McBurney said, reflect the year of the graduating class. For instance, donations would have been $20.12 for this year. However, to keep the gift consistent for the future, she said, the amount has been changed to $18.70, which represents the year the University was founded.

McBurney said she wanted to create a gift that carried the school’s mission and serves a fundamental purpose directly to students. “It’s a wonderful cause, and it’s very Vincentian,” McBurney said

Graduating seniors were informed of the gift in a letter inviting them to the events of the 2012 Senior Week – the several events that lead up to graduation. Seniors attending the culminating dinner must make the $18.70 donation; the graduates can also bring up to four guests at $20 each. This money will go toward the fund, the letter said.

SGI has already pledged $13,000 to the scholarship fund, and aims for an amount around $20,000, McBurney said. The division of funds could be split up based on a student’s need.

The scholarship will be solidified in a contract signed by Robert Wile, University senior vice president and chief of staff, Dr. Katheryn Hutchinson, vice president of Student Affairs, and McBurney.

Donations can be given into the fund even after students graduate, the senior senator said. Alumni can call into donor relations and donate toward the fund. “It’s putting some pride into your alma mater,” she said.

Associate Dean of Student Engagement Mary Pelkowski, worked with SGI to help make the scholarship into a reality. Pelkowski said the gift, its meaning and the metaphor of the donated amount were powerful and remarkable.

“I think it is a wonderful opportunity for the Class of 2012 to leave behind a legacy and tradition that will assist future STJ students by providing scholarships to students in need and wanted to leave their legacy supporting education,” she said in an email. “It is important to this year’s Senior Class to reflect the University Mission and to honor the rich history that is St. John’s.”

Danai Shirihuru, a junior, said the scholarship sounded like a good idea after it was explained to her, but felt the selection process could be different.

– Additional Reporting by Mitchell Kirk, Staff Writer