Stu­dent re­turns $12K schol­ar­ship, says he no longer needs it

The Wichita Eagle - - News - BY KAIT­LYN ALANIS kala­nis@wi­chi­taea­gle.com

Ear­lier this year, a Kansas State Uni­ver­sity stu­dent sent a let­ter to the donors who awarded him a re­new­able 4-H Vanier Fam­ily Schol­ar­ship. That’s a $12,000 per year schol­ar­ship, but he didn’t write a tra­di­tional “thank you” let­ter.

Rather, Justin Sch­mutz sent the let­ter to ex­plain he wouldn’t be ap­ply­ing to re­new his $12,000 in schol­ar­ship money — money that would have helped pay for his se­nior year in bi­o­log­i­cal sys­tems en­gi­neer­ing.

“I’m read­ing it — read­ing it, read­ing it, read­ing it — and I’m think­ing, ‘Who does this?’” schol­ar­ship donor Mary Vanier said dur­ing a “sur­prise an­nounce­ment” at Farm­House Fra­ter­nity. The an­nounce­ment was recorded on Face­book Live.

In the let­ter, Vanier said, Sch­mutz ex­plained to her fam­ily and the schol­ar­ship com­mit­tee that his goal was to grad­u­ate with­out any debt.

But Sch­mutz, who has al­ready re­newed the schol­ar­ship once for a to­tal of $24,000 over two years, wrote how he had gone over his fi­nan­cial plan and knows how much he’ll need to grad­u­ate debt free.

“I think I can do this with­out the help of your schol­ar­ship,” Sch­mutz wrote in the let­ter, ac­cord­ing to Vanier.

“What? He’s giv­ing the money back? Re­ally?” Vanier said as she ex­plained her re­ac­tion to the let­ter. “And he was.”

In the let­ter, Sch­mutz wrote that he was not ap­ply­ing to re­new his schol­ar­ship be­cause “some­one else could use the fund­ing more than me,” ac­cord­ing to the Kansas 4-H Foun­da­tion. He said he wanted to do the “right thing.”

The Vanier Fam­ily Schol­ar­ship Pro­gram, which started in 2016, is meant to rec­og­nize stu­dents who have “over­come chal­lenges in their lives,” ac­cord­ing to the pro­gram’s web­site. The schol­ar­ship cov­ers 70 per­cent of a K-State ed­u­ca­tion, ac­cord­ing to a re­lease from the Kansas 4-H Foun­da­tion.

The money is given to “young 4-H alumni who have over­come some ad­ver­sity, over­come a chal­lenge, shown some per­se­ver­ance,” Jake Worces­ter, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Kansas 4-H Foun­da­tion, said dur­ing the an­nounce­ment.

Sch­mutz had some chal­leng­ing fam­ily sit­u­a­tions in high school, Vanier said, but through the schol­ar­ship, he was able to be­come an ac­tive stu­dent at K-State and with Farm­House Fra­ter­nity. Sch­mutz’s dad died be­fore he started col­lege.

“That was so touch­ing to us,” Vanier said, “that we felt that that de­served some recog­ni­tion and also felt that that story needs to be re­told year af­ter year af­ter year.”

Be­cause of that, the Vanier fam­ily an­nounced a new “Justin Sch­mutz 4-H Schol­ar­ship” in honor of his lead­er­ship and act of ser­vice.

“I am be­yond proud of you for how you have man­aged to per­se­vere through life and be­come a great man of the com­mu­nity, of God, and our fam­ily!!” Sch­mutz’s brother, Stet­son, posted to Face­book. “What a cool cool op­por­tu­nity for you to share your legacy and in­flu­ence those around you!! ... I re­ally can’t be­lieve a schol­ar­ship will now be named af­ter you at such a very young age!”

Af­ter the an­nounce­ment, Sch­mutz ex­plained how it was one of his hopes that he’d be able to give back “af­ter be­ing blessed with sev­eral schol­ar­ships.” He hoped to do so by es­tab­lish­ing a schol­ar­ship fund in his dad’s name. His dad, Ron, died in 2012, ac­cord­ing to an obit­u­ary.

“This isn’t nec­es­sar­ily in his name ... but it’s neat to see how I think that op­por­tu­nity prob­a­bly came sooner than I ex­pected,” he said. “I hope I can con­tinue to give back to it and oth­ers in that ca­pac­ity.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.