Giving back to students with the Ellucian Pathways Scholarship
- Melissa orchestrated efforts to create and execute Ellucian’s Pathways Scholarship
- Ellucian created this scholarship opportunity to support Guided Pathways initiatives to help with developing and advising students’ education plans.
This week, Ellucian announced the winners of the 2019 Ellucian Pathways Scholarship. The scholarship, now in its second year, has awarded $150,000 to over 40 students from across the United States since its inception in 2018. This year, we received more than 300 applications from over 85 institutions—a measure of both the increasing adoption of pathways reforms and the widespread need that exists.
Life’s obstacles—and limited financial support—mean that fewer and fewer people are achieving their educational goals. Students are amassing unfathomable debt that delays or even precludes them from achieving other dreams like buying their first car or home. College completion rates are at an all-time low, and employers are struggling to find and hire qualified applicants for their open positions.
As the child of two educators who prized higher learning (one of whom was a 20+-year Datatel customer!), I was lucky to grow up knowing that if I worked hard, I had the financial and emotional support to attend and complete college. I never had to wonder whether I’d have the means to return each semester or afford my books. With the help of my parents and my savings, we were able to make it happen. But even then, I knew how fortunate I was to have that security.
To this day, no matter what solution or project I’m working on in my role as a director of solutions marketing, I’m passionate about the effects that education can have on the trajectory of a person’s life and our country’s economy.
That’s why helping to launch this scholarship has been one of the most rewarding projects of my career, both personally and professionally. And as one of the members of the selection panel, it was a really moving experience to watch the video applications and hear first-hand these students’ stories and dreams for the future.
The scholarship project began shortly after I joined Ellucian in 2018 and started studying pathways reforms. I learned that they were developed to give students more guidance when selecting their programs of study, to offer clear academic roadmaps to help ensure completion, and to enhance advising to help students stay on track. I also learned that pathways benefit our communities by preparing more students for the careers they want—with less debt incurred along the way. (If you haven’t seen this video, check it out—it does a great job of showing how guided pathways programs can help students.)
So when I was asked to create a program that would demonstrate Ellucian’s support of guided pathways, the idea of a scholarship came to mind right away.
I wasn’t sure how the idea would be received—the concept of a scholarship goes against the grain of what many people think marketing does. But after helping to create and present several different options—and after recommending the scholarship above all other possibilities—the scholarship proposal won. That’s when I realized how truly fortunate I am to be on the Ellucian team: everyone involved believed it was the right thing to do, and everyone agreed that it would demonstrate our commitment to guided pathways as well as the students involved.
Without further ado, we began designing the scholarship. Subject matter experts from across Ellucian shared their guidance and knowledge about financial aid, academic advising, student success, guided pathways, legal, finance, and scholarship administration. Everybody jumped at the chance to help.
The Pathways Scholarship has become even more than we hoped for. It’s a marriage of what students need, what our customers honor, and what our employees want. Thank you to everyone who helped bring it to life.
Hear from this year's winners in their own words.