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Scholarships open the door

From M, winter 2006

Students say that one of the things they love about the University of Minnesota is the many different opportunities that are available, providing new ways to learn and develop skills, or to grow personally in directions they had never before considered. But when students need to work long hours to pay for tuition, room and board, their ability to take advantage of those opportunities is limited. The Promise of Tomorrow Scholarship Drive was launched in part with this in mind, to help cut down on the hours that students need to work outside of class, and helping them succeed while they're at the U. The Scholarship Drive, launched two years ago, is already helping 1,043 more students. The goal is to raise $150 million; through October, $101 million has been raised.

Finding Direction (Destiny Peery)

Scholarships did more than make it possible for Destiny Peery, B.A. '05, to go to the University of Minnesota. They connected her with a faculty mentor who helped her take risks, challenge herself, and grow personally and professionally. "I was shy, but my professor encouraged me to do some things that I wouldn't have done on my own. I tutored other students, taught at Blake School, taught middle school during the summer, and got involved in an undergraduate research opportunity." Peery says she evolved from being a quiet and introverted student who had no declared focus to an outgoing and confident psychology major who graduated summa cum laude. "The resources that came with my scholarships gave me the opportunity to participate in programs like summer research and to develop many new skills," Peery says. Now Peery, who is the first in her family to go to college, plans to pursue graduate work in law and psychology and hopes to eventually teach on the college level.

A challenge met (Laura Thorson)

Being proficient in Spanish was just one of the skills that senior Laura Thorson drew on for a community project completed last year as part of an honors business communications class. She and two other students worked with eight small Latino-owned businesses in the Longfellow neighborhood to help them increase their visibility and generate more business. Thorson says that having a scholarship was what made it possible to devote the time needed to successfully complete the project. Scheduling meetings with the eight business owners was one of the challenges, says Thorson, "and they didn't all speak English. And, since the businesses did not have Internet access or computers, one of us often hopped on a bus to get in-person approvals." The students developed a flyer with coupons, promotional passports, and electronic copies of all marketing materials for each business. The materials not only exceeded the clients' expectations, but also fit within their budgets. The project was an opportunity to practice what they had learned in a real-world situation. "The demands were real," says Thorson. "They wanted a lot from us, and we had to step up and deliver. It took a lot of time, so I was thankful that I had a scholarship." This year Thorson is involved in another group field project. She and the other students are doing a financial analysis of Camp Courage for the Courage Center, making pricing, marketing, and other recommendations to increase off-season rentals for conferences and retreats.