New Founders Dinner video highlights how scholarships transform lives

by | Oct 11, 2019

Senior biology major Awa Konte was among seven students featured reading from thank you letters to donors about how scholarships have aided them on their journey to degrees.
Scholarships Transform Lives

Senior biology major and aspiring pediatrician Awa Konte is one of seven UMSL students featured in a video, debuted at Founders Dinner, showing how “Scholarships Transform Lives.” Konte and the other students read from thank you letters they penned to scholarship donors.

The University of Missouri–St. Louis needs resources to fulfill its mission transforming the lives of its students and people in the wider community.

Financial support for scholarships is integral to helping the university meet the needs of a variety of students from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

Interim Chancellor and Provost Kristin Sobolik used the occasion of the 28th annual Founders Dinner Thursday at the Ritz-Carlton St. Louis to speak to a room filled with some of the university’s biggest supporters about the Missouri Compact Scholarship Initiative.

It’s an unprecedented opportunity for donors to double their impact thanks to $42 million in matching funds from UMSL and the University of Missouri System. The scholarships they provide will help increase access to an UMSL education, boost graduation rates and reduce debt upon graduation.

Sobolik also unveiled a new video “Scholarships Transform Lives,” created by UMSL’s Marketing and Communications team and Avatar Studios in St. Louis. It gave attendees the chance to hear directly from seven students about the impact scholarships have had on them, their degrees and their futures.

“Dear scholarship donors and organizations,” began music major Alayna Epps as the students took turns reading from thank you letters to donors who’d provided scholarship opportunities.

Epps, who plans to go into music therapy, was joined by political science major and aspiring lawyer Joe Retzer, biology major and aspiring pediatrician Awa Konte, media studies major and aspiring master’s student Nina Villano, biology major and future optometrist Bana Sultan, business major and aspiring business leader Katie Basler and DNP student Norman Njihi.

“I am so grateful and appreciative that people who didn’t know me decided to invest in my future,” Konte said.

“Please know that your gift will make a big difference to me, my family and the many people who I will have the privilege to care for,” Njihi said.

“I hope one day I’ll be able to assistant students in the same way in which you helped me,” Sultan said.

Each year, 75 percent of UMSL students rely on financial aid, and as the video says, “Scholarships often make the difference between a degree and a different path.”

Steve Walentik

Steve Walentik