JBU Students Create Scholarship for a First-Generation College Student
Foundations of Leadership students raise more than $2,200
Monday, August 10, 2015
The Graduate Business program at John Brown University emphasizes the theoretical study of leadership coupled with practical application of those principles to benefit organizations, communities, and the world as a whole. Earlier this summer, in conjunction with normal course meetings and requirements, Dr. Delia Haak’s Foundations of Leadership class created and led a community-backed initiative to provide a $1,500 scholarship to a first-generation NWACC college student. Their efforts were a massive success, exceeding their original goal by more than $800.
The idea to raise money for a scholarship originated from Juan Osorio, an MBA student with a focus on International Business. Before coming to JBU, Juan earned his associate’s degree from NorthWest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) and followed it with a bachelor’s in business from American Public University. While at NWACC, Juan volunteered with the college’s LIFE Program, a “near-peer mentor program that develops college students to become leaders both on the college campus and in our community,” according to the NWACC website.
While mentoring with the LIFE Program, Juan had the opportunity to go to his former high school in Bentonville, Arkansas and educate students on the process of applying to college and how to succeed in that environment. He says these are students who “have decided to go to college, but they don't know how. So the LIFE program was intended to help these kids transition from high school to college.” Juan has been through this process before and wanted to help others who are facing some of the same challenges he once faced.
When Dr. Haak told the students in Foundations of Leadership that they would need to lead a service-learning project, Juan proposed the idea of creating a scholarship for a student through the LIFE program. His classmates quickly came on board.
They worked through the details of setting requirements, promoting the scholarship, creating an application, raising the funds, and selecting an applicant. One student set up an online GoFundMe campaign. Donations began flowing in, and eventually they surpassed the original $1,500 scholarship goal.
At that point, the class had to discuss how they would handle the extra funding. It proved to be a challenge because of the many ideas being brought to the table. Some suggested finding another use for the extra money or giving it to one of the mentors as a scholarship, but as Juan told us, “Dr. Haak basically said, ‘We said we were going to give it to students, so let's stick with the students.’”
The project required a significant effort on the part of the students. “Graduate students have many demands on their lives, professionally and personally,” Dr. Haak said. “Taking this project on, the JBU grad students challenged themselves to give more than just dollars; they gave of their personal time to attend a kick-off luncheon and announce the scholarship and application process and met outside of class to read over 50 applications and meticulously make the selection of the scholarship recipient based on criteria they identified as important to this scholarship.
“Then they attended the closing ceremony of the LIFE program at NWACC and made the announcement of the recipient by sharing quotes from the recipient's application.” This is where theory meets practice at JBU. As students left the classroom, ideas turned into action.
While Juan and his classmates believed they’d be able to achieve their goal of $1,500, they didn’t realize the project would exceed expectations in such a big way. “I mean, everybody pitched in ideas, you know, and it wasn't a challenge. We were just surprised whenever it grew a lot more than we were expecting.” Community members, including JBU faculty, students, and alumni, donated money to the cause. The end result was a full-year scholarship for a young woman who will be the first in her family to attend college.
Dr. Haak sums it up best. “As our founder John Brown Sr. said, ‘Thoughts are things.’ What we think about the subject of leadership is critical to how we act out leadership. We can memorize leadership theories and talk about faith in Christ, but practicing our faith through servant leadership is the most important component of this course, in my opinion.”