Thanks a Billion: Scholarships change lives during the State Your Purpose campaign

Because of you decorative text

College of Liberal Arts scholarship recipients have 8.4 million reasons to be thankful. Thanks to the generosity of alumni, faculty and staff, and friends, $8.4 million has been raised in support of College of Liberal Arts scholarships, impacting CSU’s $1 billion fundraising goal early, but more importantly, impacting the lives of countless students.

Since Fall 2012

  • 1,379 students have received a College of Liberal Arts scholarship.
  • $2,832,106 in scholarships have been awarded.
  • 173 different scholarship funds made an impact on students.
  • 1,756 total scholarships were given out.

Behind every scholarship is a story – from the deeply personal motivation to give to the powerful impact that scholarship support has on the recipients. Here are a few stories from the State Your Purpose campaign that illuminate just how life-changing scholarships can be for students and their scholarship donors.

Promoting Diversity and Student Success

Karen Barker (Speech and Theatre Arts ’71) was an engaged student with a helping heart and a capacity for leadership, who went on to serve as a reporter at KCNC during the 1980s and 1990s. Along with her husband, Scot, the pair made a significant impact on their community through volunteer work that focused on reducing poverty in historically underserved populations. Through their deep desire to serve historically marginalized populations, the Barkers established the Karen and Scot Barker Diversity Scholarship.

Their scholarship recipients share this same passion for helping others by participating in community engagement or volunteerism in service of traditionally underrepresented and underserved populations. Through this scholarship, students can focus on their studies and community involvement instead of worrying about how they will afford their education.

“Words cannot explain how grateful I am for receiving this scholarship. Money was going to determine whether I stayed at CSU, and getting this assistance has ensured that I stay here and continue to work towards my goals,” Leslie Valles, 2018 Karen and Scot Barker Diversity Scholarship recipient.

Professor Emeritus makes graduation possible

Erica Lafher with CAM the Ram
Erica Lafher (’17) is now pursuing a graduate degree in the Department of Ethnic Studies.

With only one semester left at Colorado State University before graduation, Erica Lafher (’17) suddenly learned that she would need additional financial support to complete her hard-earned degree.

With the sudden loss of her grant funding, Erica faced an uncertain future and feared she would have to drop out before completing her degree. With guidance from the financial aid office, Erica began applying for additional scholarships, including the Gateway to Graduation Scholarship.

Established by Daniel Tyler, professor emeritus of history at CSU, the Gateway to Graduation Scholarship meets the immediate financial need of College of Liberal Arts junior and senior students who require additional assistance to overcome financial barriers that could jeopardize their goal of reaching graduation.

“Without the Gateway to Graduation Scholarship, there is a good chance I wouldn’t have graduated. It means the world to me. ‘Thank you’ doesn’t fully articulate the level of gratitude to Professor Tyler and all those who continue to support the scholarship,” shared Erica.

Leaving a Legacy

Masako "Mako" Beecken
Masako “Mako” Beecken

In the fall of 1988, after graduating with an M.A. in English with a specialization in Teaching English as a Second Language (TEFL), Masako Beecken brought her native language back to CSU by becoming one of the first two Japanese instructors at CSU. She designed the curriculum, teaching all levels of Japanese, and took students on study abroad experiences.

To continue to inspire a passion for Japanese language and culture in future generations of CSU students, Beecken and her husband established the T & M Beecken, Alumni and Friends Scholarship Endowment.

“I admire those who work so hard to learn Japanese while facing financial stress. Through the T & M Beecken, Alumni and Friends Scholarship Endowment, I wanted to be of help, even in a small way, to motivate those students to continue their Japanese study,” explains Beecken.

This December, Beecken will retire from CSU knowing that students will continue to thrive in their Japanese studies thanks to her generosity.

Opening Doors to the Liberal Arts and to Friendship

Zuri Kargbo with Marla Trumper, longtime CSU supporter and donor for the the Champion an Artist Scholarship.

“In high school, I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I knew my family couldn’t afford to help me pay for my college education and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to go,” shares Zuri Kargbo, now a senior double majoring in music performance and music education at Colorado State University.

Even after years of intensive musical training, Kargbo was uncertain about her future. Then she received the Champion an Artist Scholarship, a four-year award that supports young musicians, artists, and scholars throughout their entire college career. The scholarship made it possible for Kargbo to attend CSU. The scholarship was established through the generosity of longtime CSU supporter Marla Trumper.

Through lunch visits and post-performance chats, Kargbo has built a special relationship with her donor. “I received an additional gift in getting to know someone as kind as Marla. She cares how I’m doing and that I’m succeeding during my time at CSU,” shares Kargbo.

Zuri playing cello
Zuri Kargbo is a senior double majoring in music performance and music education.

Supporting Learning Outside of the Classroom

John Straayer
John Straayer

For more than 50 years, Dr. John Straayer has championed student success in the Department of Political Science classrooms as a popular professor and through internships as the director of the Legislative Internship Program. Each spring for 40 years, Dr. Straayer drove a busload of CSU students down I-25 to the Colorado State Capitol, where they interned with members of the House of Representatives. He saw firsthand how life-changing this experience was for his students, with many inspired to run for political office themselves.

For many students, putting the hours and dedication into the internship meant that they were unable to take on additional work, which caused them to struggle to make ends meet. Established by Dr. Straayer and his wife, Judy, the John Straayer Citizenship and Public Service Scholarship Endowment opens doors to these internship experiences, enabling more students to participate without financial burden.

Through this gift, more students will be able to participate in internship opportunities like the Legislative Internship Program, deepening their education at CSU and making them more competitive job candidates upon graduation.

CSU Political Science Professor John Straayer working with students during the Legislative Internship Program.
CSU Political Science Professor John Straayer working with students during the Legislative Internship Program.

A Billion and Beyond

During the State Your Purpose Campaign, More than 3,000 alumni and friends gave in support of College of Liberal Arts scholarship funds with gifts ranging from $1 to $24,999, raising $8.4 million in scholarship support, and proving how gifts of all sizes can make a difference.. Together, this group gave more than $775,000.

Due to the immense impact scholarships have on College of Liberal Arts students, scholarship funding will remain a top priority through 2020 and far beyond. Thanks to the generosity of so many donors during the State Your Purpose Campaign, a liberal arts education is more accessible and affordable for deserving CSU students.