Steven Braun doesn’t take a dollar lightly – let alone $750.
As a student at BYU-Provo, the returned missionary is working two jobs while studying to be an accountant. He is also a newlywed.
“I have a lot more responsibility these days,” Braun admits.
Braun received a boost to his efforts when news of a $750 scholarship from the Spokane chapter of the BYU Management Society reached him in April. With some quick calculations, the future CPA realized that the amount was equal to a month’s pay at one of his on-campus jobs.
“This is going to help a lot,” Braun said. “I’m just very grateful.”
Braun, who graduated from Central Valley High School in 2012 and served a two-year mission in Brazil following his freshman year at BYU, said he was also appreciative of the way the scholarship application emphasized service. The requirement nudged him to take part in a food drive with fellow students in Provo shortly before Thanksgiving last fall.
“Like most returned missionaries, I didn’t feel like I was serving as much as I did on my mission,” Braun said. “I was thinking more about myself and I wanted to change that.”
In two days, volunteers collected 6,000 pounds of food. As Braun knocked on doors and told residents about the food drive, he hearkened back to his proselyting days in Brazil.
“I don’t think a lot of us realize the need that so many families have,” Braun said. “It was rewarding to be part of something that was trying to make a difference.”
Braun is not the first BYUMS grant winner in his family. His sister, Valerie, was awarded a similar scholarship in 2009. Overall, this year, honorariums were distributed to 18 recipients, a portion of whom received certificates and recognition at a May 15 ceremony co-hosted by BYUMS and the BYU Alumni Association at the LDS Institute building near downtown Spokane.
“One of our goals is to build moral and ethical leadership around the world and so this year we focused the application on students who have shown leadership abilities,” said Melissa Peterson of the BYUMS scholarship committee. “The applications were evaluated using a rubric and were read and scored by at least three people.”
Grants are given each year to local LDS high school seniors, returned missionaries and students enrolled in the BYU-Idaho Pathways program. Recipients are not required to attend a church-sponsored college or university to qualify. Funds are raised through BYUMS-sponsored activities like the Vocal Point concert in February and the fun run in June. Peterson said BYUMS – which is open to all individuals, LDS and non-LDS, who support the organization’s goals and mission – does its best to get the word out about the scholarship program.
“We put a copy of the scholarship application on the (BYUMS) website, had LDS Employment Services send the information to all Spokane-area bishops and sent the information out to high school guidance counselors,” she said.
A committee through BYUMS is assigned the task of organizing the scholarship application and assessment policies as well as reviewing all the letters of recommendation, essays and applications.
“It’s definitely a group effort,” said Peterson. “It was exciting to see the work pay off and receive feedback from recipients thanking us for our work and for the scholarship. None of us have gotten to where we are without the help of others and these scholarships are funded by the support our organization receives throughout the year from the many activities we put on.”
The list of 2016 scholarship recipients includes: Max Alley, Jenna Vasquez, Alyssa Woodlief, Jacob Ross, Drew Brown, Madeline Thomason, Rachel Liljenquist, Morgan Anne Clark, Brooke Hagerty, Gabrielle Orndorff, David Ross, Derek Vasquez, Zoe Chambers, Braun, Alma Longhurst, Annie Doxey, Madaleine Osmun and Kyle Brockbank.
Thomason, a member of the Colville Stake, learned about her scholarship in the spring of her senior year at Jenkins Senior High. She is also part of the Chewelah Homelink program. In the fall, she will begin her first year at BYU-Idaho in Rexburg with some welcome tuition reinforcement from BYUMS.
“I have been doing everything in my power to be able to pay for my college education, from saving since I was really young to getting good grades and applying for many scholarships,” Thomason said. “This was a great relief and an answer to my prayers. It’s an amazing blessing to be receiving more support for college.”
Thomason plans to study computer engineering with an emphasis on software engineering. Her long-term goal in the field is to work in some area of computer programming.
As in past years, Peterson said she and other members of the committee have high hopes for each one of the scholarship recipients. Along with academic and professional success, there is the anticipation that honorees will carry on the BYUMS ideal of giving back in a way that has an impact.
“I can’t wait to see what these young people do in the future,” Peterson said. “I hope they take the time to update us on their successes and choose to pay it forward whether they end up in Spokane or not.”