Ten incoming students win $50,000 Foundation Scholarships

Contact: Jeanne Baron

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Ten high-achieving high school students have won inaugural Foundation Scholarships to begin their studies at Western Michigan University this fall.

Foundation Scholarships, valued at $50,000 each over four years, are based on academic performance as well as demonstrated financial need. They are part of WMU's mix of top scholarships for beginning students.

The awards will provide recipients with $12,500 per year for four years and are similar to WMU's famed, merit-based Medallion Scholarships. High-achieving high-need students may be eligible to enter the running for both types of scholarships, but can only receive an award from one.

This year's Foundation Scholars have an average grade point of 3.99. Four recipients come from underrepresented or minority groups, and all are from Michigan. They are scheduled to graduate from WMU during the 2018-19 academic year.

2015 Foundation Scholars

  • Roman Bell is from Detroit and graduated from University Preparatory Science & Math High School. Bell plans to major in psychology and is the son of Phillip and Dawn Bell.
  • Crystal DeRoo is from Holland and graduated from Hamilton High School. DeRoo plans to major in journalism.
  • Jordan Farrel is from Portage and graduated from Portage Northern High School. Farrel plans to major in accountancy and is the son of Lloyd Farrel and Jamie Heggie.
  • Lily Heitz lives in Fountain and graduated from Mason County Eastern High School. Heitz plans to major in chemical engineering and lives with her grandparents, Rick and Sharon Rolston.
  • Marilyn Laski is from Saginaw and graduated from Carrollton High School. Laski plans to explore her major options and is the daughter of Elizabeth Laski.
  • Marissa Mohney is from Vandalia and graduated from Centreville High School. Mohney plans to major in marketing and is the daughter of Christopher Mohney, and Shari and Kevin Ivkovich.
  • Diana Ovalle is from Grant and graduated from Grant High School. Ovalle plans to major in biomedical sciences and is the daughter of Jose Ovalle.
  • Stephania Pardo is from Grand Rapids and graduated from Godwin Heights High School. Pardo plans to major in psychology and is the daughter of Jose and Eva Pardo.
  • Tamera Rutherford is from Kalamazoo and graduated from Gobles High School. Rutherford plans to major in psychology and is the daughter of Terri Rutherford.
  • Paula Shay is from Muskegon and graduated from Oakridge High School. Shay plans to major in a business field and lives with her grandmother, Barbara Stott.

Foundation Scholarship Program

WMU established the Foundation Scholarship Program in 2014 to expand college access for new first-year students needing financial aid. The scholarships are designed to provide a financial "foundation" to the recipients so they can focus on their academic studies.

To be eligible for the award, applicants must have a high school GPA of 3.7 or higher at the end of their junior year, or have a composite ACT score of 26 (or SAT of 1170) or higher. They also had to apply to the University by Dec. 22 and be admitted for fall 2015 by Jan. 5.

The 2015 recipients were selected from a pool of 77 students. Some were automatically admitted to the pool; others were nominated for inclusion by their high school principal, advisor, teacher or another professional. A WMU selection committee narrowed the pool to a group of 23 semifinalists, who were invited to complete a biographical sketch and provide a two-minute video to be used in the finalist selection process.

In addition to the $50,000 monetary award, Foundation Scholars become members of WMU's Lee Honors College. The college, one of the oldest honors programs in the nation, enhances the undergraduate learning experience by providing such benefits as smaller class sizes, individualized academic advising and a freshman mentoring program.

All semifinalists who do not receive the Foundation Scholarship receive a minimum of $3,000 in scholarships to attend WMU.

The Foundation Scholarship fund is set up in the WMU Foundation. Donations to the fund can be made at mywmu.com/gift by clicking Giving, followed by Make a Gift, and typing Foundation Scholarship in the giving form's special instructions box for designations.

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