Campus Connection: Giving back generously -- Employees at Southeast donate to support student needs
By Katryn Conlin for the Winona Daily News
January 14, 2023
Many college students are balancing family and work commitments along with pursuing higher education. A sudden divorce, a dramatic increase in the cost for housing and utilities, or dealing with a car that is constantly breaking down can derail their educational goals.
Through scholarships and emergency funds, Minnesota State College Southeast Foundation helps students enrolled at the college overcome the financial barriers that threaten their success.
Last year, the Foundation awarded 206 scholarships to Southeast students totaling more than $160,000. The Foundation also provides funds to support student basic needs while enrolled at the college, such as The Pantry food shelf and emergency grants.
The Foundation annual campaign is underway and it just wrapped up its employee giving drive. Southeast employees - faculty, staff, and administration - consistently demonstrate remarkable generosity in giving to the Foundation.
65% of employees give
This year, 65% of Southeast's employees participated in the Employee Giving Campaign, which supports the Minnesota State College Southeast Foundation. The campaign raised $29,000, an increase of $4,000 over last year.
"A 50% employee participation rate is considered a very ambitious goal at most colleges," said Jennifer Hawkins, Executive Director of Minnesota State College Southeast Foundation. "But it's not surprising that Southeast exceeds that rate. Our college community is incredibly devoted to student success. As a small school, our faculty and staff know personally the struggles some of our students face. I think that's why they are so determined to help the Foundation offer scholarships and support."
"I'm consistently humbled by the generosity of our employees, not only during our annual campaign, but throughout the entire year. The level of support is nothing short of amazing," agreed Casie Johnson, Director of Stewardship and Foundation Operations. "It's very heartwarming to see and I'm proud and honored to work with such giving colleagues."
"There is not a single person here who doesn't care about the success of every student," said Welding instructor Casey Mann. "This has a huge impact on our students -- they can see how much we care about them."
Greg Cady, a Criminal Justice and Sociology instructor, added, "As a person who grew up in poverty, I understand the challenges of limited resources. Reducing financial barriers enables students to focus on their academics and future instead of financial stressors."
Impact on students
Ellie Glodowski is a pre-social work transfer pathways student in Winona. In addition to earning an associate of arts degree, she is a work-study in the college Academic Support Center. She received a MSC Southeast Cares scholarship, funded by employee donations.
"Words cannot express how grateful I am for the scholarship you have awarded me. This truly helps me further my educational goals with much more ease," she wrote in a thank-you note to the Foundation. "Your gift is such a blessing to me. In a way, you are also helping those who I will help in the future."
Casey Mann directs his annual giving to welding scholarships. "At graduation, you really get the feeling of how these students really appreciate what we have done to help them take their next step."
Greg Cady designates his annual gift to the college's Emergency Fund. "Many students are just one unexpected expense, such as a vehicle repair, away from dropping out of college," he said. "Having access to Emergency Fund scholarships provides students with a safety net to offset the expense and enables them to still focus on their educational goals and dreams."
Jennifer Hawkins noted that in addition to employee participation, public support from individual and organizations also helps the Foundation fulfill its mission to support students and sustain and grow the college.
"Community giving truly makes a difference. The Foundation team works with donors to align their philanthropic goals with student and college program needs. There are many ways to help: one-time gifts, pledges over a period of time, or estate gifts," she said.
If you are inspired to support students at Southeast, you can give online at umsrvjtz.xinminlong.com/donate or call 507-453-2663.
Top: Casie Johnson, Southeast’s Director of Stewardship and Foundation Operations, posed with Criminal Justice and Sociology instructor Greg Cady at an event celebrating gratitude to the college’s Foundation donors.
Below: Ellie Glowdowski, a pre-social work transfer pathways student, received a MSC Southeast Cares scholarship funded by employee giving this year.