The Niagara University Student Government Association is pleased to announce that, as of Oct. 22, 2010, an endowed scholarship has been established in its name. The Niagara University Student Government Association (NUSGA) Scholarship will assist an undergraduate student who is a demonstrated leader in his or her community and/or on the Niagara campus. An annual award will be made to the selected student(s) based on financial need, as determined by the university’s Office of Financial Aid.
“It was very important to us to figure out a way to make a significant, lasting impact on the current and future students of Niagara University,” remarked NUSGA President Christopher W. Zukas, a junior business major from Elmira, N.Y. “Endowing an annual scholarship in perpetuity seemed like an especially meaningful way to do exactly that.”
The award was initiated by the NUSGA cabinet in 2005 as a current use, $1,000 annual scholarship, meaning that its funding was derived entirely from the organization’s yearly budget. However, Eric M. Walsh, NUSGA’s immediate past president, and the 2009-2010 NUSGA cabinet sought to develop a self-sustaining fund that would have a greater impact on a larger number of students. After taking office this year, Zukas continued to pursue this initiative.
“Eric and I sat down during the transition process and talked about how to best give back to the students,” said Zukas, who served as the organization’s programming director a year ago. “Realizing that time was fleeting to complete the initiative under Eric’s administration, we came to an understanding that I would take over the effort to establish the scholarship when I assumed the role of NUSGA president.”
Through a series of reallocations, contributions from NUSGA executive members’ budgets and donations from each of Niagara’s current classes, the scholarship fund will begin with a principal amount of $60,000 and will have accrued sufficient interest to be self-sustaining within three years. In the meantime, the Niagara University Student Government Association Scholarship will continue to be subsidized from the association’s annual budget.
Nevertheless, the NUSGA boosted this year’s award to $2,000, citing the economic downturn and a conscientious effort to boost the university’s retention rates as reasons for the increase. For the next couple of years (until the endowment is self-sustaining and awardable), the amount granted will be determined by the association’s president.
In the future, the amount of the scholarship will be the maximum permitted each year based on accrued interest, but in no case will the award, combined with any other financial aid provided to the recipient, be in excess of the cost of university tuition and fees. The determination of the award recipient will be made by the NUSGA executive cabinet in consultation with the Office of Financial Aid. The application process will remain anonymous until selections are finalized.
To receive the award, an undergraduate student must have successfully completed his/her freshman year, maintained a Quality Point Average (QPA) of 3.0 or higher and possess a demonstrated need for financial assistance. The application process requires candidates to submit a 300-word essay, entitled “Leadership and Vincentian Values.”
Niagara University’s Student Government Association seeks to serve the undergraduate student body and its surrounding community to the highest capacity possible, while keeping within the framework of the Catholic and Vincentian traditions and values of the university.