April 27, 2013
Jennifer Hasamear

'Thank You' and 'Hello'

Donors met with the students they've aided at the annual Scholarship Dinner April 25. For some students, it was the first time they'd met their scholarship funder.

Scholarship recipient Henry Sengmany, center, and Benedict and Eleanor Janson met for the first time at the scholarship dinner.
Scholarship recipient Henry Sengmany, center, and Benedict and Eleanor Janson met for the first time at the scholarship dinner. Photo by Jennifer Hasamear

Conversations filled the room at the annual Scholarship Dinner last week where donors and students enjoyed dinner and an opportunity to get to know one another.

"This was one of the greatest nights of my time at SLU," said Henry Sengmany, a senior, majoring in finance and entrepreneurship, who had the opportunity to sit with the donors who fund his scholarship, the Benedict and Eleanor Janson Scholarship.

"This was such a wonderful opportunity to meet them. I have been unable to attend this event for the last several years, but I wanted to make sure that I came since I am graduating in a few weeks. I am so excited that I did."

Through their conversation, Sengmany hopes to keep his connection with the Jansons after graduation, who expressed interest in helping him in his job search. 

"I love when our recipient comes. I am always so impressed with the students," said Eleanor Janson, donor. "If there is any way we can help these students in the future, we would love to help them make connections and build relationships."

More than 150 donors and students attended the dinner, which took place in the Saint Louis Room in Busch Student Center. Many scholarship recipients met their donors for the first time.

"Financially, these many millions of dollars in scholarships and awards represent a larger and more far-reaching investment in the various schools and departments of the University, in the future of the students we serve," said Paul Stark, S.J., vice president for Mission and Ministry, during the evening's invocation.

"Faithfully, men and women like you — our benefactors — continue to invest through the University in men and women like you — our students — in the promise and possibilities you represent, and believing in this investment can make a real and practical change in actions, deeds and life rather than merely in words."

Jasmine Bitanga, a Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship recipient, was the student speaker for the evening. A sophomore Parks College student studying aerospace engineering, Bitanga expressed her driving ambition to receive a college education due in large part to her tremendous supportive family especially her "Gma." She also spoke of her overwhelming gratitude for the generosity of the donors who have helped make her education possible.

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart," Bitanga said. "I would like to extend this expression of gratitude on behalf of all the SLU scholarship recipients. You are deeply and wonderfully appreciated. God bless!" 

For Gregory Mayhew, who established the Stephen H. Mayhew Scholarship in memory of his brother, this dinner was a great way to make the connection of who the scholarship is helping.

"I think it's great to be able to put a face with a name on a piece of paper. And to be able to find out more about the people who are receiving this scholarship," Mayhew said.

One of the Mayhew Scholarship recipients who attended, Zachery Rauschenbach said the dinner was a nice opportunity to meet his donor.

"It's great way to be able to say thank you for helping ease my financial burden to the actual person helping me," said Rauschenbach, a freshman mathematics major.

Stark, who also spoke later in the program, called the evening "a celebration of our collective efforts."

"Of support and sponsorship. Of community and commitment. These are the elements that make up the foundation a Saint Louis University education," Stark said.

"It is our collective efforts that make our one University great. Together, we provide the finest Jesuit, Catholic education to our students."

This year, nearly $16 million in donor-funded scholarships were awarded to SLU students. For many students, these additional funds provide them the financial assistance they need to be able to attend SLU.

"I think we have much to celebrate, especially tonight, we can all be proud of our shared achievements," Stark said. "And if we can continue to work together collaboratively — inspired by the mission and values that guide our University — we will continue to succeed."

In closing, Stark expressed his gratitude to the donors and the students.

"To our students, thank you for working hard. And to our generous benefactors here tonight, I want to express my gratitude for your commitment to ensuring that SLU continues to attract the finest minds in the country."

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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