Boldly Invest in Change-Makers

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About

2020 reminded us that our world faces challenges that are difficult, complex and entrenched. Now, more than ever, we need change-makers who are thoughtful, well-educated and well-positioned. The world needs PLU students and alumni.

This spring, you are invited to Boldly Invest in Change-Makers. Your investment will help at least 10 new students come to PLU through two new scholarship opportunities: an expansion of the Act Six scholarship program to Yakima and a formalization of the Palmer Scholars partnership with PLU. (Learn more below 👇 in Updates.)

Act Six and Palmer Scholars students are already change-makers and leaders within their communities. When they come to PLU, they will create change and lead within the PLU community. 

When these students graduate, they will draw on the powerful combination of a PLU education and their own lived experiences to help solve the most entangled of societal problems — creating change that will benefit ALL of us in our pursuit of a more just and equitable world. 

Be part of solving big problems with your investment in students today. 

👇 Scroll down to learn more. 👇

Updates
Act Six scholar Andre Jones ‘22 grows leadership skills through outreach

When it came time to find a college, Andre Jones ‘22 had options. He considered attending a historically black college or university, like Howard University or Morehouse College. Fortunately for PLU, the Tukwila, Washington native found himself pulled closer to home. His choice of schools narrowed after he was awarded an Act Six Scholarship. PLU is one of five universities affiliated with the program that offers leadership training and scholarships for emerging urban and community leaders.

“One of my mentors in high school was an Act Six recipient,” Jones said. “But they left my freshman year, so I was never introduced to  PLU or Act Six until my senior year.” 

After learning more about the university located just 30 miles south of him, he decided it was the school for him. Aside from having the major he wanted to pursue, it was far enough away from Tukwila to feel like he was going off to college, but close enough to home that he could easily return for visits. 

Founded and run by the Tacoma-based nonprofit Degrees of Change, the Act Six program identifies and rewards scholars who are passionate about learning, eager to foster intercultural relationships, willing to step out of their comfort zones, committed to serving those around them, and want to use their college education to make a difference on campus and in their communities at home.

“Just their presence in the classroom brings a diverse perspective,” Melannie Cunningham, director of multicultural outreach and engagement at PLU, said of Act Six Scholars at PLU. “I look at the group of students we have and every one of them is unique in their own way — they have some amazing qualities.”

A graduate of Foster High School in Tukwila, Jones is majoring in Global Studies with a minor in Hispanic studies. During his time at PLU, he has studied abroad in Mexico and has been involved in a number of clubs, including the Black Student Union and the Lute Nation step team.

Jones is an advocate for the Act Six program and says he appreciates how it brings students like him into spaces on campus that typically lack representation.  

“We take up space and we normalize (students of color) presence on campus,” he said. 

Through Act Six, Jones is building his leadership skills by engaging with the local community. Jones says he saw his leadership skills grow while participating in the Big Buddies program with local kids. 

“I grew up with my grandparents and they ran a daycare so I was always around kids and babysat,” Jones said. “I always really enjoyed working with kids, so the buddy program is where I felt comfortable. That’s where I felt my leadership was at the best.”

PLU has certainly benefited from his presence, but Jones says he has gained a lot from interacting with his fellow Act Six recipients. He credits them for snuffing his fears of studying abroad.  

“I was really scared to go study abroad, but one of the benefits of being an Act Six student is we have a cadre or cohorts,” Jones said. “Your cadre is a group of other Act Six students who support you — it’s like a family. A lot of them studied abroad and said, ‘no bro, it’s not scary, go you will have fun’ so that gave me a lot of confidence.” 

Now he’s ready to offer advice to students who are making their own decisions about college. He encourages them to not be afraid. 

“You guys aren’t alone,” he said. “A lot of my fellow cadre members, who came to college were leaving home for the first time. Everyone you meet is most likely scared as well. You’re not going to be alone when you are going through this. Whether you go to PLU, Morehouse, Howard, or whatever, it’s OK, you’re not alone.”

This article originally appeared on Feb. 2, 2021, on the PLU news site. The original article can be accessed here. 

27 days ago by Teddy Wingo
Act Six scholar and social work major Georjina Soliai ’23 thrives at PLU

Georjina Soliai ‘23 of Lakewood, Washington grew up less than a 15-minute drive from Pacific Lutheran University. The Clover Park High School graduate was always aware of the university, but she never really considered it an option for herself.

Soliai’s family moved to the United States in 1998 from Samoa. Her parents instilled in her and her siblings a hard work ethic, so she always knew she would go to college. Many of Soliai’s teachers at Clover Park were PLU alums and often talked to her about the school. At the same time, Soliai was growing interested in pursuing a social work degree so she could be a mentor to kids in her hometown.

“I heard about their social work program from one of my mentors from elementary school and she talked about the different classes and the different workshops and I knew that was something I was really interested in —in becoming a social worker later on,” Soliai said. “ And academics wise PLU was the best choice for the major I wanted.”

Still, as a first-generation college student, Soliai wasn’t certain how she would be able to afford college. While going through the college admissions process she learned of the Act Six Scholarship. Act Six is a leadership program that connects local community affiliates with faith- and social justice-based colleges to equip emerging urban and community leaders to engage the college campus and their communities at home. PLU is one of just five Act Six affiliated universities. Melannie Cunningham, director of multicultural outreach & engagement, helps support the Act Six students who come through PLU. 

“The Act Six students are already leaders when they come, they already have that in them,” Cunningham said. “To have them come with that energy, with that spirit and that perspective on campus mixes things up.”

After hearing about Act Six, Soliai decided to apply and was accepted into the program. This helped pave the way for her to go to PLU. 

“A lot of my friends who are in Act Six, like me, they wouldn’t be able to afford a private university like PLU,” Soliai said. “Private schools are dream schools for some kids.”

Before her freshman year began in 2019, Soliai was able to meet with other Act Six Scholars for training. Soliai credits this time in helping her cement her decision in pursuing social work. She was hesitant to choose that as her major because of the workload. But other Act Six students stepped in and encouraged her by sharing their own stories of being part of the program. The support offered by Act Six helped Soliai navigate those first months of school.

“I think it definitely had a really big impact on my transition,” Soliai said. “Coming into college, unless you have friends going with you, you don’t really know much. Coming in new and having the Act Six group take you under their wing —they were like your big buddy and It was nice to have a set community that you automatically belonged to.”

Founded and run by the Tacoma-based nonprofit Degrees of Change, the Act Six program identifies and rewards scholars who are passionate about learning, eager to foster intercultural relationships, willing to step out of their comfort zones, committed to serving those around them, and want to use their college education to make a difference on campus and in their communities at home.

Since coming to PLU, Soliai has been active in many clubs and even played for the Lutes Softball team. She says PLU has given her a stronger sense of who she is and what she believes in.

“PLU has changed me,” she said. “I wasn’t the kind of person who advocated for what I believed in, but at PLU they really emphasize vocation or finding your voice … I’ve become more aware of my values and the community that I want to represent.”

That community is her neighborhood in Lakewood, Washington. She understands the needs of the area and hopes she can return to give back.

“I’m from the Woodbrook area outside of Ft. Lewis,” she said. “I want to come back to Woodbrook, to show these kids that you can get out. You can branch out and succeed.”

This article originally appeared on Dec. 14, 2020, on the PLU news site. The original article can be accessed here. 

27 days ago by Teddy Wingo
Partnering with Palmer Scholars to Create New Scholarship Opportunity

Pacific Lutheran University and Palmer Scholars are expanding their partnership to better serve students of color in Pierce County. For many years, Palmer Scholars have chosen PLU as their top private school choice. Since 2016, PLU has accepted 19 Scholars and has nine currently enrolled.

To continue to support these students PLU and Palmer Scholars will begin offering qualified students financial assistance, on-campus support and leadership development to assist them as they work toward graduation. 

“I am beyond excited to enter this incredible new partnership with PLU, enabling us to provide our Scholars with stronger financial assistance packages as well as intentional on-campus support and leadership development,” Jonathan Jackson, Palmer Scholars executive director, said. “Having earned both my BA and MBA from PLU myself, I know the value of a PLU education and where it can take you professionally. I couldn’t be more proud of my alma mater for investing in these future leaders!”

With this new agreement, PLU will provide accepted students a dollar-for-dollar match of scholarships awarded by Palmer Scholars. These students will be guaranteed a $3,000 Palmer Scholars Scholarship and a $3,000 PLU Scholarship on top of any merit or need-based scholarships they qualify for. 

“We are pleased and honored to partner with Palmer Scholars,” PLU President Allan Belton said. “We share the organization’s vision for breaking down barriers for students and equipping them to become change-makers in the community.” 

Palmer Scholars’ mission to assist local students of color to pursue a higher education aligns with PLU’s own goal to educate students for lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership and care. Initially launched in 1983, Palmer Scholars has served more than 600 young adults throughout Pierce County. 

This article originally appeared on Jan. 11, 2021, on the PLU news site. The original article can be accessed here

The deadline to be considered for the Palmer Scholars opportunity for the 2021-2022 academic year has passed, but students who are interested in attending PLU can still reach out to PLU Admissions

41 days ago by Andrea Michelbach
Full-tuition Scholarship Program Now Open to Yakima Students​

Pacific Lutheran University has announced the expansion of the Act Six Scholarship to Yakima Valley students, broadening the reach of this highly successful full-tuition, full-need scholarship partnership.
 
Act Six, a leadership and scholarship program that connects local community affiliates with faith- and social justice-based colleges, is making $240,000 available to Yakima area students to attend PLU. 
 
“As someone who grew up in the Yakima Valley, I know firsthand that community is full of young people who are passionate about learning, justice, and equity, and who are eager to make a positive difference,” said PLU President Allan Belton, himself a first-generation college student. “The expansion of the Act Six Scholarship to that region represents an invaluable financial and organizational support system to help students from Yakima attend and succeed at PLU.”
 
PLU has partnered with Act Six since 2007 and enrolled and graduated more than 90 scholars. The expansion into the Yakima Valley means students will have an opportunity to attend PLU and receive leadership training, academic preparation, mentorship, and give back to the community through acts of service. 
 
“I truly believe that students in the Yakima Valley have the drive and passion for higher education and that with the right opportunity they will thrive,” said Amber Ortiz-Diaz, Yakima Valley Community Foundation program director. “This partnership allows for Act Six Yakima to be able to extend our services to students who are interested in venturing out to receive their college education in hopes to return to Yakima to create positive change. I am so grateful that we have college partners who believe in this mission as well and believe that our next generation of leaders are here in the Yakima Valley.”
 
Act Six scholars who attend PLU have a graduation rate of 87 percent, and 67 percent of students are first-generation college students. Founded and run by a Tacoma-based nonprofit Degrees of Change, the Act Six program identifies and rewards scholars who are passionate about learning, eager to foster intercultural relationships, willing to step out of their comfort zones, committed to serving those around them, and want to use their college education to make a difference on campus and in their communities at home. 

Yakima aerial photo

This article originally appeared on Nov. 10, 2020, on the PLU news site. The original article can be accessed here

The deadline for Yakima students to apply for the Act Six opportunity for the 2021-2022 academic year has passed, but students from Yakima who are interested in attending PLU can still reach out to PLU Admissions

41 days ago by Andrea Michelbach

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