This year marked BVU's ninth annual Celebrating Scholarships event, where students come together with their scholarship benefactors to say "thank you" in person.
"This event is probably one of the most touching events for our donors, and the students have come to look forward to the dinner every year," says Barb Anderson, donor relations and special events coordinator.
The celebratory dinner event takes place each spring and brings together nearly 150 students and scholarship donors.
Audrey Gutz, who, with her children, established the Harlan Gutz Memorial Endowed Scholarship in 2006 in memory of her late husband, has attended the dinner many times and believes it is an interesting, educational, and fun event. "I thoroughly enjoy meeting the scholarship recipients, hearing many of the student's educational journeys, the different types of scholarships, and how they have impacted their lives at BV," says Audrey. "Whether it is our scholarship recipient or not, it is very interesting to meet the students and hear of their personal and campus interests."
Her involvement with the scholarship is a way to give back to the University that enabled her husband, Class of 1972, to achieve his degree as a working student and parent. "Being a 'Storm Laker,' I am proud of BVU in the community, and it's nice to be a small part of it. The students I have met or received thank you notes from are so appreciative to be able to complete their education, and the scholarship has really helped them," says Audrey. "Because our scholarship was established to support non-traditional students (usually older individuals with families), they are looking to their college educations to make themselves more marketable for careers, and we continue to support the scholarship yearly so that we can eventually help more students. In our small way, we take pride in Buena Vista University and the part it plays in education and the advancement of individuals."
Danielle Eden with Dorothy and Bob Ohrlund
The students view this event as an opportunity to share their gratitude with all of the benefactors in person. Danielle Eden from Wesley will be a junior this fall and is majoring in biology, and she has participated in the Celebrating Scholarships event during both her freshman and sophomore years. "It is a gratifying experience. I love having the opportunity to recognize the generous donors that have been able to make my dreams, as well as my fellow undergraduates' dreams, come true."
She has received the Ohrlund Family Endowed Scholarship, and says, "If I had not received the scholarship which was generously donated by them, I would not have been able to attend BVU." The scholarship has enabled Danielle to declare two minors in chemistry and Spanish, and it allows her the time to participate in many organizations that have a positive impact on the community, both on and off the campus.
Manda Clark and Sharon Garton
Manda Clark, a business major from Johnston, has also attended the event for the last two years. She will be a junior this fall and finds the event more meaningful than just a thank you note, as it allows her to learn about her benefactor, face-to-face.
Manda received the Gary (Class of 1962) and Sharon Garton Scholarship and the Donald D. Luetkeman (Class of 1960) Scholarship. "I just feel very blessed and fortunate that there are people out there who believe in furthering education and are able to give back and help others achieve success. Our donors aren't just writing checks; they are investing in us, which is what makes BVU different from other schools," says Manda. "My scholarships are taking a lot of financial burden off of me so that I am able to not only graduate with less debt but also let me attend a small school with amazing opportunities that I may not have been able to afford otherwise."
Mariana Ramirez, a senior history and English major from Schaller spoke at the event, saying, "Four years ago, BVU changed my life by awarding me the Multicultural Scholarship. Looking back, I am amazed by how much this University has done to help me pursue what I am passionate about. BVU is an amazing place, and I can certainly attest to this fact. It made receiving a college education a possibility for me."
Another speaker at the dinner was Grace Bodey, Class of 2014, who shared very thankful words with the audience, "I am 341 miles from my hometown right now. It has been 1,461 days since I moved into my very first dorm room. I have taken 50 classes, which turns out to be 135 credits. $17,500 is the amount of my Presidential Scholarship, and that's only for one year, so that's $70,000 total. You gave all of that to me. Zero is the number of regrets I have about coming here. Infinity is the number of times I wish I could thank you for investing in me."