Attending a small, private Christian college isn’t cheap. College students are no strangers to terms like loans, grants and financial aid, but they don’t often know where this money comes from. To assist with the costs of tuition at Northwestern, two million dollars of financial aid is provided by donors through over 200 different scholarships and grants.
Every year, donors look forward to meeting the students impacted by their dollars. For the last 30 years, apart from 2020, the NW advancement office has celebrated the generosity of the donors in the form of a scholarship luncheon. Over 300 people will gather in the Rowenhorst Student Center for lunch on Thursday, September 30, and the advancement office is extremely excited about the event.
Due to COVID restrictions, the luncheon was not able to be held in the fall of 2020. Instead, the advancement office helped students reach out to donors with a thank-you note. Now that events can be held again, it is especially important to show donors appreciation.
“While donors love giving to the mission of Northwestern, it always helps to have a connection, a relationship. It’s all about fellowship and gratitude,” said Vice President for Advancement Jay Wielenga.
Many of the available scholarships are sponsored by donors who truly care about NW and wish to impact someone who shares similar interests and passions. John and Mary Muilenburg, Northwestern alumni who graduated in 1958 and 1960 respectively, are quoted on a brochure to inspire donors: “It’s like the old adage: ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’ We were ‘taught to fish’ by Northwestern, and we feel strongly about using the resources we’ve been blessed with to equip the next generation.”
Seventeen new scholarships are being introduced during the 2021-2022 academic year, including the Christian E. Butler Leadership Scholarship, the Don and Ruth Lenderink Pre-Ministerial Scholarship and the Stand Out Track and Field Scholarship.
Students who attend the luncheon can expect to hear from Vice President for Advancement Jay Wielenga, Director of Gift Planning Corky Koerselman, donors Earl and Karen Woudstra, President Greg Christy and NW senior Lydia Pearson.
Pearson, who spent a semester away from NW in the mission field, commented on her upcoming remarks saying how grateful she is for NW. Because of the participation of the donors, Pearson has felt a sense of belonging at NW and hopes that other students experience the same.
“While I was gone for a semester, I began to feel pulled back to Northwestern,” Pearson said. “During this time, I reflected on the intentionality of leaders across campus, the neighbors next door on the wing and the professors I saw daily. These people and this place have challenged my understanding of the meaning of love and belonging. I hope to share my experience to showcase my gratitude for the donors’ participation in our lives. I feel honored to speak on behalf of the students and hope I can communicate a well-meaning thanks.”
Each the scholarships are listed in a booklet over 40 pages long.
“Every scholarship in that book, there’s a story,” Wielenga said.
Some donors have lost family or friends and want to honor them with a fund in their name. Others might have been impacted by NW and want to pay it forward. Students who attend the luncheon will participate in the conversation with a grateful heart and an expectation to learn from the many stories that will be shared.