As the fourth of seven children, Kelsey McHugh was never guaranteed financial support for her college education. But with help from the David K. Hill Memorial Scholarship, which covers a full semester of her Harper College tuition, the Palatine resident is making strides to achieve her dream of becoming an ER nurse.
McHugh is among several dozen scholarship recipients who penned thank-you notes to donors whose contributions have lightened their financial load, an annual Harper College Educational Foundation initiative that ushers in the Thanksgiving season. The notes will be mailed to donors in advance of the holiday.
The Foundation last year awarded more than $230,000 in scholarships to 300 students – awards fueled by contributions from both individuals and companies.
"These donors play a priceless role in empowering Harper students to complete their college education," Chief Advancement Officer Mary Knight says. "They may never fully know the influence that their donations have had on so many lives, but Thanksgiving seems an appropriate time to express our ongoing gratitude for the role they play in our students' success."
Alexandra Minginas, a single mother of two enrolled in Harper's Medical Office Administration program, said a career change was necessary when her job in real estate took a hit in the recession. The scholarship she received when she went back to school means there's more money left to raise her family.
"In these times, things are difficult, and any assistance is truly appreciated and makes a difference," Minginas says.
During a lunchtime thank-you-writing session, one student thanked a donor for saving her dreams; another, a future teacher who will complete a bachelor's degree after finishing at Harper, wrote that the scholarship meant fewer student loans and an easier time completing his education.
Harper's Educational Foundation will continue the initiative this winter, inviting students to write another batch of thank-yous to donors for Valentine's Day. The Foundation makes more than 100 scholarships available to students every year, and also provides funding for programming campus-wide.
Visit the Educational Foundation online to learn more about scholarships or to donate.