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Robert Hentz

BJC Scholars Fund launches college careers for 14 new students

The BJC Learning Institute auditorium brimmed with promise, pride and gratitude as BJC HealthCare and The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis honored the third class of BJC Scholars at a luncheon and orientation August 2.

Thirteen of the 14 scholarship recipients from throughout the region were on hand with family members and supporters to meet BJC and Foundation leadership and receive information about the scholarship award process.

BJC president and CEO Rich Liekweg welcomed the new class and led a round of applause for both them and their family members on their achievements. As dad to a rising college sophomore, Liekweg shared some of his own experiences, assuring the new Scholars that it was OK if they didn’t yet know what they planned to study or if they changed their minds along the way.

He also explained BJC’s commitment to the scholarship program. “Our mission to improve the health of the people and communities we serve extends far beyond what happens inside the walls of our hospitals,” he said. “We established the BJC Scholars Fund in 2017 as another tangible way to support the people in our communities. Knowing that the cost of post-high school education could be a barrier to a young person being able to pursue their dreams, we wanted to help eliminate that barrier.”

BJC’s partner on the program is The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, which provides all administrative support and additional assistance to the awardees.

Faith Sandler, executive director, noted that the Scholarship Foundation was getting ready to mark its 100th anniversary. “This organization was founded in 1920 by a group of Jewish women immigrants who were seeking a way to build a new community and provide opportunities for education and engagement with society. The first scholarship awards were for $15 to the local business school. In 2018, the foundation awarded nearly $5 million to more than 500 students.”

The students also heard from an inaugural scholar now entering her junior year. Lindsey Grossheim offered both words of encouragement and the practical advice to “Read your email!” while admitting that she was not aware initially she had been selected for the scholarship.

“Getting this scholarship fostered knowledge and learning opportunities and made me more confident,” noted Grossheim. “I realized I wasn’t just lucky; I deserved it, I earned it, and so have you. I have great faith in your abilities and so do all of the people in this room.” She closed by sharing one of her favorite quotes that resonated with the room of students and supporters: “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”

BJC board chair Kelvin Westbrook closed out the event with wise counsel as a special guest speaker.

“‘Oh, the places you’ll go,’” said Westbrook in reference to the Dr. Seuss classic. “You can’t see them now, but you can dream them. I encourage you never to settle and to know that there is no such thing as failure — not if you pick yourself up and learn from the mistakes. When the grade gets steep, you can still find the way.”

About the BJC Scholars Fund

BJC created the BJC Scholars Fund in response to regional community needs identified by the Ferguson Commission and For the Sake of All, and in recognition of the critical correlation between higher education, better health outcomes and greater longevity. Open to high school seniors planning to pursue a two- or four-year degree at a public Missouri or Illinois state college or university, the BJC Scholars Fund offers need-based awards of up to $10,000 per academic year. The annually renewable scholarship can be applied toward tuition, fees, room and board, transportation and incidental costs. In its third year, the fund is now supporting more than 40 students at institutes of higher learning in the bi-state region.

The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis administers all aspects of the program and supports the awardees and their parents in taking full advantage of other state, federal and institutional funds to which students are entitled, to ensure that the BJC scholarship award completes the funding required for full year attendance. The foundation also provides ongoing support that includes advising, workshops, financial aid counseling, participation in paid internship programs and additional funding opportunities if relevant.

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