Students have begun to benefit from new awards created as part of the Spartan Scholarship Challenge campaign.

As a high achiever who loves science and has her eye on medical school, Columbus, Ohio resident Shanice Akota saw MSU as a perfect fit. But, as big sister to three younger siblings all being raised by a single mom, the last thing she wanted was to burden her family.

How she would afford MSU had remained a looming question until late in June when she learned she would receive the newly created William A. and Janice D. Simpson Spartan Scholarship, which preferences students in Lyman Briggs College.

Shanice is one of nearly two dozen MSU freshmen who were the first to receive scholarships as part of the Spartan Scholarship Challenge. Since its inception one year ago, the challenge has raised more than $2 million and has created 62 new endowed scholarships, helping undergraduate students with financial need.

Shanice has always set her sights high. She graduated from high school with honors; was the president of her school's National Honor Society and its orchestra; was active each year in drama, choir and Spanish Club; and also headed a charity organization to help children in Uganda. She was admitted to MSU's Lyman Briggs College and hopes to become fluent in Spanish through MSU's study abroad program.

“I really want to be successful at MSU and the scholarship definitely will help me accomplish my goals,” said Shanice. “I hope I will be able to make a difference in the world.”

To help donors stretch their dollars and their support for undergraduate scholarships, the Spartan Scholarship Challenge leverages $7 million from a $10 million anonymous gift in a matching program that is available only until December 31, 2010. During the matching gift period, for every two dollars given to establish a new scholarship endowment, one dollar will be designated from the matching funds.

This means that instead of providing the usual minimum of $30,000 required to create a named scholarship, donors are able to create an endowed scholarship for as little as $20,000 (payable over five years). Gifts of up to $1 million can be matched; conversely—as every gift is important—a university-wide Spartan Scholarship has been created to match gifts of less than $20,000.

Freshman Jordan Desrochers will never forget the moment she learned she was to receive the Jake and Maxine Ferris Spartan Scholarship which preferences students in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Honors College. “Given the competitiveness for scholarships, it was something I just couldn’t believe,” she said. “My sister was with me when I opened the award letter and she said my face just went blank.”

For Jordan, who graduated at the top of her class at Sault Area High School, the assistance provided will lower the amount of her student loans and lessen the need for her to work during the school year.

“It was so exciting to be picked out from a crowd,” said Jordan, who plans to study dietetics. “There isn’t a lot of money out there right now and I can’t thank the donors enough.”

To learn more visit www.givingto.msu.edu/ssc, contact Director of Development for University Scholarships and Fellowships Jennifer Bertram at (517) 432-7332 or speak with a development officer in your college or unit.

This story was originally published by University Advancement on November 9, 2010.

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