Scholarships help students serving their community reach their goals

Seven members of the Wichita State VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) Fellows and AmeriCorps Fellows programs were fortunate to receive $2,000 scholarships from offices at Wichita State University. For the second year, the Wichita State AmeriCorps programs partnered with the Office of Financial Aid and the Graduate School to award scholarships to students who are serving or have served as AmeriCorps members.

Members who successfully finish their year of service qualify for a Segal Education Award worth up to $6,000 or a cash stipend. Last year the Community Engagement Institute partnered with university offices to offer scholarships in order to recruit community-engaged students to serve as AmeriCorps members. “Being awarded the AmeriCorps scholarship has helped me immensely,” said Anita Martinez. “It has allowed me to further my education in the social work field, so one day I can give back to the community that gave so much to me.”

AmeriCorps and VISTA members provide service to nonprofits across Kansas who are working to move people out of poverty and strengthen their local communities. Many of the members simultaneously attend classes during their service year. VISTA members serve to build capacity for nonprofits by recruiting volunteers, promoting organizations through social media and outreach, contributing to fundraising efforts among other critical activities. AmeriCorps members provide direct service at their agencies, helping children who need additional support in their classroom, helping teach in the classroom or mentoring and encouraging youth through summer camp programs.

“The Financial Aid Office is happy to recognize students who are volunteering their time in our community,” commented Sheelu Surender, Director, Office of Financial Aid. “The values and goals of these students embody the mission of Wichita State and we are fortunate to be able to support them financially and encourage them to help others while working towards graduation.”

Undergraduate scholarship winners are Abigail Faflick, Medalia Juarez, ShaiLyn Malsky, Teresa Olsen and Shea Witherspoon. Graduate scholarships winners are Anita Martinez and Felicia Smith. Anita Martinez, social work master’s student commented, "being awarded this scholarship meant the world to me, I'm the first in my family to graduate college and continue with graduate school. I'm excited to graduate again in May so I can help serve our community. Thank you."

The VISTA Fellows program is in its seventh year and the AmeriCorps Fellows programs is in its second year at Wichita State. Current openings are available at my.AmeriCorps.gov, search ‘WSU’ under Program Name. For more information contact Angela Gaughan at angela.gaughan@wichita.edu or 316-570-1309.