KOKOMO, Ind. — Guests filled the Continental Ballroom in their most festive cream and crimson attire and spirit wear, celebrating Indiana University Kokomo students' achievements during the annual scholarship gala on Thursday, June 25.
The Viva! Cream & Crimson featured an elegant international meal with expert wine pairings by Nathen Swetella, from Pernod Ricard, while contributing to transformative experiences for IU Kokomo students.
The gala, while raising money for scholarships, also provides an opportunity to thank donors, and to speak about how the scholarships impact their lives.
Kristianna Upchurch, recipient of the Your Chance Scholarship, said the award was "a true blessing." She earned a bachelor's degree in business, and will graduate with her Master of Public Management in August. Dana Scruggs, who endowed the scholarship, also spoke of her motivation for giving.
"This was my turning point, and the fresh start I so desperately needed," said Upchurch. "Dana's scholarship gave me a chance to stand up after my defeats. She gave me the opportunity to rise and thrive."
Scruggs endowed the scholarship in honor of her late father, Charles Scruggs. He earned a business degree and a law degree from IU. Within a few years of graduating, he was an assistant district attorney at the federal courthouse in Indianapolis.
"I realized the way to create hope would be to honor the story of our chances," she said. "Perhaps I could use the scholarship to help people like my father, who have a powerful inner drive to better themselves, but who are held back by enormous obstacles."
Jan Halperin, vice chancellor for university advancement, thanked those who attended the event for their support of the campus and its students.
"We are so grateful to our donors, not only individuals and families, but from area business leaders as well," Halperin said. "They recognize our students are their future employees, and want to provide the best educational experiences. I am delighted to see corporate support of scholarships grow every year at IU Kokomo."
For senior Alexis Nash, the Seltzer Scholarship provided the chance to study in China as part of an intercultural communication class.
"The most significant lesson I've learned at IU Kokomo is that great things never come from comfort zones," said Nash. "Success is attained from wandering in the unknown and capitalizing on obstacles you encounter. The Seltzer Scholarship allowed me to go on a first-time adventure that was both rewarding and challenging."
Gabby VanAlstine received the Amba Rao Graduate Service Award and the Pendse Outstanding Student Award while completing her Master of Business.
For VanAlstine, the scholarships were a sign of support.
"Working full time and going to graduate school is not an easy task," she said. "For someone to believe in me and encourage me to keep going, there are no words that accurately express how that feels. I am just one of the many stories of students who are able to achieve goals they never thought possible because of your generosity."
Presenting sponsors for gala were Nipsco and Soupley's Wine and Spirits.
Generosity level sponsors were Button Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, Duke Energy, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Gadomski Foundation, Indiana University Health IU Health North, Saxony, Tipton; Ivy Tech Community College, Realtors Association of Central Indiana, Inc.; and Allen Safianow, Ph.D. Advocate level sponsors were Cone Palace and Security Federal Savings Bank.
For more information on how to create a scholarship, please contact the Office for University Advancement at 765-455-9485.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.