More than 500 students and donors gathered at the annual Scholarship Dinner to celebrate a major milestone yesterday: $29 million raised for scholarships! This exceeds the Extraordinary Times, Extraordinary Opportunities scholarship campaign goal of $25 million and is a testament to the dedication and generosity of supporters of this university.
It was a dramatic reveal announcing the total dollars raised. Scholarship students stood before the audience and turned over large cards revealing eight figures right to left: zero, zero, zero…all the way to 29 followed by fanfare and resounding applause.
“Even though we beat our goal, we will never stop raising money for scholarships,” said President Kustra, in a statement renewing our commitment to students. “This is the best investment you can make,” he said. “Donors are like teachers. You never know where your influence is going to stop.”
Speaking from the heart, students shared their extraordinary gratitude to donors. Each had a unique and touching story to tell—their backgrounds, chosen fields of study, who inspired them most, their plans for advanced degrees or dreams of their first career. But there was one common theme among them—a desire to give the gift of scholarships themselves one day.
Boise State alumnus and scholarship donor Dave Wali, executive vice president of Gardner Company, shared why he and Kathy Wali choose to support students. “It’s very different times than what it was like for me when I was a student. It’s harder for students to afford tuition by working” he said, citing the increasing costs of tuition and living expenses and the growing burden of debt. Wali encouraged all donors to consider new scholarship opportunities to meet the needs of students today. The Walis are a great example of how the giving cycle continues and grows.
Beyond the hundreds in attendance at the celebration, there are thousands more giving to scholarships—and it’s a wide range of people who give. Faculty, staff, and students themselves are among scholarship donors.
We have many to thank for helping us surpass the goal. Donors such as Kem & Carolyn Gardner among them. At the groundbreaking for the City Center Plaza location of Boise State’s Department of Computer Science, Mr. Gardner announced a $1 million personal gift to fund scholarships for refugees, minorities and women pursuing degrees in technology related fields. The Kem C. and Carolyn B. Gardner Scholarship will enabled hundreds of deserving students at Boise State.
An investment in scholarships is an investment in student success, and in the future—a future glimpsed through the stories of students like Sarah Rehn, a senior studying chemistry at Boise State with plans to pursue a doctoral degree in the chemistry of nanomaterials. In Sarah’s words, “all of the life-changing experiences I’ve had throughout my time here have only been possible because of philanthropy and the endless opportunities that can be found at Boise State.”
Perhaps the power of scholarships is most evident if we dare to ask, what would be lost without them? Thankfully, we have donors and champions who are deeply committed to Boise State students seizing every opportunity their scholarships afford them.
Thank you to our donors who continue to enable the futures of Boise State’s stellar scholars.
Laura C. Simic is vice president for advancement at Boise State University.