Contact: Mark McGowan, NIU Office of Public Affairs
October 7, 2008
DeKalb — What does it mean to be a Northern Illinois University Huskie? Does tragedy create – or reveal – our character? In what ways would you honor the memories of the students lost Feb. 14?
Answers to these questions are among the requirements facing students who hope to earn the new Forward, Together Forward scholarships. Applications and accompanying recommendations for the first round, which are due by 11:59 p.m. Monday, Nov. 3, also ask for evidence of a strong work ethic, motivation, inspiration, integrity, intellectual curiosity and high regard for others.
NIU will award up to five of the $4,000 scholarships each year to continuing undergraduate students who have completed at least 12 credit hours over two consecutive semesters.
The first recipients will be announced Feb. 14, 2009, during planned remembrance activities.
University leaders expect the Forward, Together Forward awards “will be among our most prestigious scholarships” because of their basis on personal merit as well as scholarly achievement, Provost Raymond Alden said.
“We noted as we went through the various memorial activities following Feb. 14 that the students we lost had all been very engaged in the campus community and were very hard-working individuals who shared a high-quality character,” Alden said. “We thought it would be an appropriate way to honor their memory and their presence on our campus to provide these scholarships to students who have the same sorts of interests in campus engagement and the same commendable personal characteristics.”
Students who earn the scholarships will receive printed certificates honoring Gayle Dubowski, Catalina Garcia, Julianna Gehant, Ryanne Mace and Dan Parmenter, Alden said. “I believe this will be a long-term way to memorialize these individuals,” he said.
Mallory M. Simpson, president of the NIU Foundation, said 1,580 donors came together with no prompting to build the $623,000 scholarship fund. (The current grand total of all Feb. 14-related gifts is nearly $715,000 from about 1,900 donors: Three hundred and eight donors have contributed about $92,000 to three individually named funds established in the colleges.)
The scholarship will exist as “the permanent legacy of the exceptional character of the five exceptional students,” Simpson said.
“These funds were not solicited,” she said. “The beauty is that the impulse of their aching hearts drove almost 1,600 alumni and friends of Northern Illinois University to make sure those precious lives would be remembered forever. They gave with great love and generosity, without being asked.”
“This really shows the engagement of not only our university community but our broader NIU family that extends far beyond our campus,” Alden added. “It was a very gratifying response.”
Each applicant must exhibit solid academic credentials, with at least a 2.5 GPA, and present biographical information that includes awards, honors, community service, extracurricular and leadership involvement, employment experience, hobbies and special interests.
Each also must provide two recommenders who will write thoughtful essays about the specified noble traits of the applicants. One recommender must come from the NIU community, including administration, faculty, staff and students, while the other can be anyone of the applicant’s choosing.
Applications, recommendation forms and application procedures are available online. The selection committee is comprised of nine faculty, two students and one staff member.
Scott Peska, director of the Office of Support and Advocacy, said the families of the five students NIU lost Feb. 14 are pleased by the scholarship and its funding.
“They thought it was nice that the campus was making the effort to recognize and honor the students in this way,” Peska said.
“The scholarship will allow future NIU students to understand how five people positively impacted our community in such different ways,” he added. “As Forward, Together Forward scholars they will be able to impact our campus in their own ways.”
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