Good Fortune Shared With Students

Good Fortune Shared With Students
Sharon Garton, right, with student.

Powerful economic forces are having a painful impact on the cost of going to college and the promise that higher education brings to students working toward a better quality of life and long-term financial security.

At stake for many students with limited means is not only basic access to higher education, but also financial roadblocks to accessing value-added academic opportunities such as travel, internships and research experiences. These opportunities are part of the full college experience and can broaden students’ perspective and give them an edge in an increasingly competitive job market.

During the 2009-10 academic year 99 percent of BVU students received institutional gift aid, according to the Office of Financial Assistance. Over the past five years, endowed and restricted scholarships funded by alumni and friends of BVU have generated more than $5 million in assistance for students. In the 2009-10 academic year, BVU awarded over $11.6 million in institutional gift aid, which included restricted and endowed scholarships.

Lifelong educators Sharon Garton and her late husband, Gary L. Garton, Class of 1962, were dedicated to their profession and served as positive role models and mentors to hundreds of students during their careers. When they retired in 2002 — with a combined 76 years as teachers — the Gartons wanted to do more to help students pursue their dreams. To do this, they created the Gary and Sharon Garton Scholarship at BVU for eligible students majoring in science, with emphasis in biology, chemistry or physics.

“We have always thought education was so important that we wanted to help people who had limited financial resources,” says Sharon. “Because Gary was a biology major at BV, we decided to help students majoring in the sciences. We have been very impressed with Buena Vista and the way it shows concern for students and the educational opportunities it provides for them.”

While many scholarships help with the cost of tuition, several provide assistance for students to have access to expanded educational opportunities and by doing so complement institutional resources.

“We provide significant financial support for international travel experiences, internship and research opportunities, and other programs that add real value to students’ educations beyond the classroom,” says Dr. David Evans, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. “We work hard to integrate these experiences with the curriculum, so that students can undertake multi-faceted projects — sometimes extending over multiple semesters or even years — that provide them with real expertise in a particular subject.”

One of the oldest donor-supported funds primarily used to assist students with the cost of academic international travel is the Henry Olson Endowed Scholarship which was created through an endowment by BVU Trustee Edward Bock, Class of 1940. It is named after BVU’s 14th president. Since the stipend was first awarded in 1994, more than 200 students have received it.

Study-abroad and international academic travel can be transformational events for students, says Dr. Dixee Bartholmew-Feis, professor of history and study abroad coordinator. “Students learn to be self-sufficient in new ways and to rely on their mental stamina and inner reserves. They learn what is to be a global citizen and why that is important.”

Among the many countries that students have visited in these academic programs are England, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, China, Spain and Russia.