The weather outside may be frigid, but inside the Hunter Conference Center, hearts were warmed during the fourth annual Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon on Wednesday, which brought SUU scholarship recipients together with the donors who have paid for their education, revealing the impact a single person can have on another’s success.
Though the event was intended for students to give thanks to their benefactors, the givers were, in turn, just as openly grateful for the students they were able to support.
According to donor Dan Jones of Cedar City, whose parents created the Homer and Belle Jones Scholarship Endowment, “It was great to talk to the student who is benefiting from my parents’ legacy. To know that their sacrifice wasn’t in vain brings me great joy.”
SUU President Michael T. Benson echoed that sentiment saying, “It is one thing to construct buildings or build football fields, but without students, none of us would be here. These donors truly emulate the spirit shown by the original founders.”
During the luncheon, three scholarship recipients addressed the group and shared their stories of hardship, strife and even tragedy. Though their experiences were different, each imparted an inspiring account of how the generous support of others has changed their lives forever.
One student speaker, Jourdyn Cleveland of Cedar City, a senior studying elementary education who has been fighting cancer since the age of 15, said, “I know that whatever time I have left, I want to do something with it and pursue my dreams. Giving is an ongoing process and is more than writing a check, it’s changing a life.”
In addition to thanking donors, the luncheon was also intended to recognize student success in academics. Through the generosity of Edward and Carolyn Rondthaler, two $3,000 prizes were awarded to SUU’s top psychology and music students.
This year’s music recipient went to Alex Byer, a senior music education major. The award for psychology went to Shalisha Jessup, a senior from Adamsville, Utah. Both students have 4.0 GPAs.
During his closing remarks, Benson asked the students in attendance for two commitments: “I ask you, first, to complete your education and then, later in life, give back to the place that gave you your start. To give a student just like you a chance at an education.”
For the 2012-13 school year, 3,372 students received institutional scholarships, totaling $10,818,218 to help SUU’s students.