On Tuesday, May 12, the Creighton community came together to show our students we’re there for them.
For Creighton’s first A Day for Jays, the University raised more than $444,000, including a $220,000 challenge fund from the Heider Family Foundation.
Altogether, more than 900 alumni, friends, faculty, staff and students made a gift on Tuesday to scholarships and emergency assistance for students facing financial hardships amidst COVID-19.
A Day for Jays was itself a response to the changing world emerging in the wake of the coronavirus. The event replaced the University’s annual Giving Day, honing its focus to the greatest and most immediate areas of need for our students.
This semester, sophomore Kahiau Cockett-Nagamine, a biology major, has received both scholarships and COVID-19 emergency aid from Creighton, and he’s deeply grateful for the support. Without his four years of scholarships, he says, he would not have been able to attend Creighton.
“I’m a first-generation college student, so it really makes me happy to know that there are people out there supporting students like me,” he says. “Creighton alumni really care about the school and what it did for them. Now, for them to pay it back for our generation is really amazing.”
Some alumni feel the need to give back right away. Recent alumnus William Schademann, BA’19, says he saw A Day for Jays as “an enormous opportunity for alums like me to make an impact during these difficult times for our country and the University.”
Schademann recalls growing up, driving by Creighton and dreaming of attending someday. Now, he’s happy to help others realize that dream, gift by gift.
Creighton parents Michael, BSBA’89, and Susan Van Erdewyk likewise appreciated the chance to give thanks to a place that means so much to their family, including Michael, Jr., BSCHM’17, and incoming Creighton senior Martha.
“There are so many reasons why we give to Creighton,” Susan says. “We have experienced first-hand how the values of a Jesuit education prepare a student and develop the integrity of the whole person.”
Creighton parent Steve Shirley, meanwhile, celebrated A Day for Jays from his home in Pueblo West, Colorado, making a gift to Creighton Athletics scholarships. Shirley’s son, sophomore Bryce Shirley, is on the cross country team.
“It’s an honor and a pleasure to be a small part of A Day for Jays,” Steve says. “This gift is a way that I can feel connected, even though I am over 600 miles away.”
Many Creighton faculty and staff celebrated A Day for Jays, as well, including Jeremy Fisher, MBA, PHR, director of the John P. Fahey Career Center and Creighton EDGE. He made a gift to scholarships.
“My staff and I in the Career Center really miss seeing our students in person and on campus,” he says. “I know that everyone is impacted in some way or another because of COVID-19, and I really wanted to support our students experiencing any sort of hardship at this time.”
A Day for Jays highlights one of the University’s key priorities going forward: the importance of scholarships. Scholarships, especially at this moment, are vital, as many of our students would not be able to attend Creighton without them.
On Tuesday, Bluejays made gifts to general scholarships and scholarships in athletics and each of the nine schools and colleges.
A few of the deans themselves highlighted just how big a difference scholarships make in the lives of their students.
“Scholarships for nursing students are very important because many of the bright young people attracted to nursing are from families of modest means,” says College of Nursing Dean Catherine Todero, BSN’72, PhD, RN, FAAN. “Providing financial help for students interested in becoming Creighton nurses is not only good for the students, but good for the discipline and for health care in general.”
Anthony R. Hendrickson, PhD, dean of the Heider College of Business, says scholarships show that Creighton is ever committed to making an education accessible to all.
“Because of the generosity of our donors,” he says, “we can educate even more business leaders in the Jesuit tradition. We thank everyone for supporting our students on A Day for Jays.”