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Parents Association scholarships nurture pride, success

December 06, 2011

“By all statistical reasoning I should not even be in college, let alone successful in college,” begins a thank you letter to the ASU Parents Association (ASUPA) from Seven Tomek, a scholarship recipient and single parent who lives below the poverty line.

The ASUPA has awarded scholarships, such as Tomek’s, since 1986. Beginning with two scholarships of $250, the program has grown to 54 scholarships of $4,000 each.

Initially, the funds were raised each year to award as many scholarships as possible. Over time, parent contributions were significant enough to establish an endowment for the program, providing support in perpetuity.

The impact of these scholarships is evident through the recipients’ personal stories.

Tomek continues: “I’m in the final semester of my undergraduate career and there is a good chance that, without the help of the Parents Association, I would be forced to quit a semester short of completion. Instead, I’m finishing my undergraduate thesis and submitting applications for doctorate programs. I also started training to help with drug research. My education and experiences have surpassed any expectation or dream I could ever have set for myself.”

ASU students aren’t the only beneficiaries of this program, which requires that students volunteer each semester at university events. This year, ASU will receive 1,300 hours of community service from the Parents Association scholars.

“The service component of our scholarship program is intended to help the student build community within the university and ASUPA, which contributes to their overall success and feeling connected with ASU,” says Robin Okun Hengl, senior director of Parent Programs for the ASU Foundation for A New American University, which houses the Parents Association.

Tomek confirms the value of this interaction: “I find a sense of worth and identity through my academic success. This success has been validated and recognized by the Parents Association when I often otherwise feel invisible. As a result, this scholarship goes far beyond the monetary component; it instills a sense of pride and motivation I’m not sure I’d find otherwise.”

The ASU Parents Association is now accepting scholarship applications through Feb. 3, 2012.