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Annual Hearts and Scholars event promotes philanthropy, celebrates students' accomplishments

People seated in an event space where a man is speaking on a stage next to screens that display the words "Hearts Scholars."

Last year, scholarship funds totaling $135.5 million had a direct impact on students from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Photo by Meghan Finnerty/ASU

January 23, 2024

Each year, alums, community members and other supporters of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University contribute to students' success by investing in their future.

On Jan. 18, The College celebrated this connection by bringing together donors and the students they support at the annual Hearts and Scholars event.

In 2022–23, the total scholarship funds disbursed to students in The College — including institutional, ASU Foundation and private scholarships — was over $135.5 million.

Aimee Parker, a 2016 alum of the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication and one of The College’s Emerging Leaders, delivered the event’s keynote address. Parker has made prominent strides in the communication field, showcasing her talent in digital marketing and advertising.  Currently, she serves as the co-founder of a digital marketing app, Digi-Ads, which is dedicated to empowering women entrepreneurs.

Parker was a recipient of scholarships during her time at The College and is now a donor herself. She shared a bit of her story and how contributions from donors impacted her life.

In the midst of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Parker’s family was dealing with the aftermath of the storm by having to start over, and to do so, had to spend funds intended for their children’s college education.

Parker said what “could have been a life defined by tragedy became a story of triumph over adversity” because of the donors who helped support her and give her a chance to shine.

“I found solace in the generosity of donors like you. ... Your generosity became a beacon of hope, transcending the academic realm and playing a crucial role in shaping the trajectory of my life,” Parker said.

She also shared words of wisdom to the students who received scholarships and support from donors — every one of whom's lives were shaped and transformed by philanthropic support.

“To my scholars, I implore you to see beyond your immediate impact. Recognize the privilege bestowed upon you, and let it fuel a commitment to pay it forward,” Parker said. “Your education is not just a personal achievement. It is a tool for uplifting others around you.”

Throughout the evening, students shared impactful stories about how receiving scholarships helped them achieve their goals and gave them the confidence and motivation to shine. Students were highlighted both in video stories and in an open forum to close the evening.

Video courtesy The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Nicole Kiser, a dual major in biological sciences and Spanish, is a recipient of the Herb and Laura Roskind Scholarship. Kiser participated in life-changing research and an internship with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

“The support from donors wanting to help me while I continue my education means the world to me,” she said. “It was transformative because, without their support and philanthropy, I wouldn’t have been allowed to form connections and be part of a larger science community at the institute.”

Jonathan Chavez, an undergraduate student pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Spanish, received the Quino E. Martinez Scholarship Endowment from the School of International Letters and Cultures.

One step closer to fulfilling his dreams of becoming a teacher, the scholarship helped ease some worry about paying for college.

“I’m passionate about my language, culture, traditions and heritage, which led me to pursue a degree in Spanish at ASU,” Chavez said. “I work two part-time jobs to put myself through college, and receiving that scholarship was a huge stress reliever.”

As the largest college at ASU, The College is home to a diverse student population, and the philanthropy of alumni, faculty and community members aids the success many of them achieve.

The connection between donors and the students they support is more than simply paying their way through college — it’s an impact on their future.

“Let us pledge to continue this journey of impact, creating a future where every aspiring mind is given the chance to shine,” Parker said. “The journey is not just about acquiring knowledge; it’s about the transformation of lives — your lives and the lives after you.”

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