Night at the Ritz

By Brook Anderson

April 16, 2014

‘A Night Under the Stars’, at least that’s what it appeared to be at the 2014 Night at the Ritz scholarship fundraiser. Presented by the MWSU Ambassadors, the annual scholarship benefit for nontraditional students was held in the Remington Hall Atrium. The president of the ambassadors, Barb Crumley, was there to share her thoughts and support for the benefit. “This gives the nontraditional students a chance to seek out scholarships just for them,” Crumley said. Diane Holtz, the University Liaison, also shows her appreciation for the benefit and purpose of the fundraiser. “There’s a large population of nontraditional students here at Missouri Western who all have very busy lives,” Holtz said. “These scholarships help them to achieve their dreams and reach their goals.” Michelle Blakley, a recipient of a scholarship, was present and showing her thanks to the ambassadors and the donators. Blakley explains how the nontraditional students who receive the scholarships come with a story, or a need for extra help. “It felt nice to be told that, hey I have a past but I’ve overcome all my struggles and they want to give me money to live off of,” Blakley said. “They feel I’ve earned it, and that I’ve deserved it.” Many of the students who have been given a scholarship through the ambassadors volunteered at the event to display their gratitude towards all the sponsors and donators. “These are all the people that donated the money to give me the money to live off of for the semester, so I’m thankful,” Blakley said. The main focus of the night is to show full support towards nontraditional students and raise money, but there’s a lot of planning and thought that goes into the Night at the Ritz fundraiser. Every year the ambassadors pick a theme, or area of study to showcase and support around campus and in the community. “In the last few years we have been featuring different area’s on campus, and this year it was the science and math,” Crumley said. The theme of the night, ‘Ritz Under the Stars’, supported the science and math idea. The night also included three free showings of the planetarium show for all the guests. The decorations for the benefit fit the theme spot on, with small stars gleaming from the walls and hanging above the guests head’s. “The Remington Atrium is a beautiful space,” Holtz said. “It fit this year’s theme perfectly.” In the past, the Night at the Ritz was a dinner, but this year it changed to heavy hors d’oeuvres and cash bar, as well as a silent auction and raffle. “We just wanted to change it up a bit,” Holtz said. “Those who attend will have a better opportunity to visit with each other and enjoy the evening.” The guests of the night could participate in the silent auction and raffle, in which all items were donated through sponsors of businesses throughout the Saint Joseph area. “The goal of the night is to reach ten thousand dollars in scholarship money,” Holtz said. The fundraiser was supported by many sponsors and guests, among which was Missouri Western’s President, Dr. Robert Vartabedian. “The ambassadors are literally changing lives of the people who are working full time, raising families, and trying to juggle so much, and they raise the scholarship money for them to make their dream come true,” Vartabedian said. Many scholarship recipients, donors, sponsors, and guests were present at the fundraiser to aid in raising money, as well as giving their full support towards the board of ambassadors. “There is absolutely no organization on campus that has done a better at transforming lives than the ambassadors,” Vartabedian said.