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College experiences exceptional year of endowed scholarship gifts

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Posted on Thursday, July 13, 2023

This story appears in the June 2023 edition of Westminster Magazine, Westminster College’s alumni magazine.

Endowed scholarships are an integral part of the educational landscape, embodying the values of philanthropy, community support and the belief in the transformative power of education. By providing financial support to deserving students who may not have the means to pursue a college education, these scholarships open the doors to the future.

At Westminster, endowed scholarships are a lifeline for many students, and this past year, 22 endowed scholarships were created—the largest number in recent years and a solid investment in Mother Fair’s students and future.

These endowed scholarships—totaling $950,000—are permanent and lasting contributions to the College and will help give hundreds of deserving students access to a Westminster education. Last year Westminster awarded $27 million in funded and unfunded aid to assist students in financing their education.

The success of the past year is largely because Westminster supporters believe in the mission and vision of Westminster, says Judy Boggs, senior director of advancement operations and strategic prospect research.

“Each endowed scholarship created is a sign of faith in Westminster and her future,” says Boggs.

Establishing endowed scholarships are often personal and named in memory or honor of a loved one, but they are also created to target a type of recipient—a nursing major from Erie, Pa., for example, or a student involved with the Westminster Entrepreneurship Center (WEC).

That is the case with the Entrepreneurial Values Scholarship, established by John Hepler ’77 to aid WEC students who embody traits that lead to success as an entrepreneur. For nearly 30 years Hepler was in marketing, strategy and brand promotions at MillerCoors and found his own entrepreneurial spirit benefited his career.

“Having an entrepreneurial mindset and skill set within that large business was a key to success, whether it was managing a brand, running a local market or managing a brewery,” he says, citing innovation, risk-taking, big picture thinking, relentlessness and clear communication skills as important traits for success.

“I’m also a big believer in whole-person wellness as a key to performance. We need to focus on physical, mental and spiritual fitness to be our best,” he says. “I hope basing the scholarship on the demonstration of those attributes and beliefs—not just GPA— will influence behavior in students that drives their success.”

As he advanced in his own career, Hepler says he found satisfaction in mentoring and helping younger colleagues grow professionally—something that he has missed in his retirement.

“Although I’m not directly involved with students’ development, I hope this scholarship is a way I can inspire them to develop attributes that will help them succeed in their pursuits,” he says.

Helping Westminster students succeed has been the foundation for all of the endowed scholarships created over the years. Westminster currently awards 284 different endowed scholarships, and this academic year, 419 students representing 48 majors were the beneficiaries of those funds.

Endowed scholarships are also a long-lasting investment in Westminster’s future because they bolster the endowment, which currently sits at $132.7 million.

“These funds will exist in perpetuity, providing financial support to deserving students now and for generations to come,” says Boggs. “They also provide a solid foundation for our continued momentum and ensure Westminster College can move forward with confidence.”

Read Westminster Magazine online at Issuu here.

Above, students involved with the Westminster Entrepreneurial Center—seen here with WEC's coordinator Eric Gaber—will benefit from the Entrepreneurial Values Scholarship created by John Hepler '77.