NIU earns top honors for Huskie Service Scholars program

Scholarship Provider of the Year Award 2015 ribbonNorthern Illinois University recently was named winner of the 2015 Colleges and Universities Scholarship Provider of the Year from the Colorado-based National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA).

“It is such an honor to be recognized for all of the work that we do,” said Anne Hardy, director of NIU’s Scholarship Office.

Each year, the NSPA selects two outstanding scholarship providers in the following categories: Independent Scholarship Provider and Colleges and Universities.

“The winners of the Scholarship Provider of the Year Award exemplify innovative and effective scholarship practices that have positively impacted the ability of their scholars to access and be successful in higher education,” NSPA executive director Amy Weinstein said.

“NSPA members work to design their scholarship programs and student support services in strategic ways; it is an honor to collaborate with professionals from all over North America to help students achieve their educational goals.”

NIU was named the 2015 winner for its Huskie Service Scholars program, which is administered by the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning.

“This prestigious award validates the impact of programs such as Huskie Service Scholars at NIU,” said Michaela Holtz, associate director in the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning.

Huskie Service Scholars is a program that strives to develop a peer network for first year students who are first-generation college students or low-income students. With the support of a peer mentor, teams of students engage in 300-hours of community over the course of the academic year.

Huskie Service Scholars“The program allows students to deepen their understanding of civic engagement while earning their partial tuition waiver through service,” Holtz said. “It also represents the outcome of several very effective campus-wide collaborations through which we are able to provide the necessary support for our growing number of first generation and low income undergraduate students.”

While there are many strong scholarship programs at NIU, Hardy said she nominated the Huskie Service Scholars program because of its mission to provide support for first year students through mentoring, training, and funding.

“The students become engaged in NIU and in the community,” Hardy said. “These connections will support them through their years at NIU and will motivate them to graduate and stay involved as alumni.”

Hardy said as a public university, NIU has a number of scholarship and grant programs in place to recruit and retain talented and deserving students.

But the Huskie Service Scholars program goes one step further.

“We not only want to be accessible, we want to provide opportunities for our students to learn and grow, and to make an impact on their community,” Hardy said. “The Huskie Service Scholars is a program that is focused on access and success for our students.”

As part of the NSPA award, NIU received a $2,500 cash prize sponsored by Fastweb.

by Jane Donahue

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