By Justin Janorschke
For many students, scholarships provide a way to relieve the financial burden that comes with paying for their education. Missouri Western’s nontraditional students, who often have to support themselves and family members, make use of these scholarships so that they may earn an education without having to work another job to pay for it. Luckily for these students, there have been many scholarships that have been set up specifically to help them.
The Ambassador’s Scholarship, which has given aid to Western’s nontraditional students since 1989, is one such scholarship. Since the scholarship’s founding, it has given out nearly $400,000 in funds, much of which is generously donated by the Saint Joseph community. To bring awareness to the scholarship, attract more donors and thank the community members who have made the scholarship possible, the Ambassador has held annual events such as this year’s Picasso’s Night at the Ritz.
Diane Holtz, University Liaison, described the event that has helped make the scholarship possible.
“It’s a very fun event, and it raises money for scholarships for nontraditional students,” Holtz said. “All the items in the silent auction are donated, all the raffle items are donated and we have a lot of sponsors. All the proceeds go [to the nontraditional students]; we usually make anywhere between $10,000 and $15,000.”
To help staff the event, Western has continuously recruited help from its students. Reyhan Wilkinson, a member of the Student Ambassadors, was among those who volunteered their time. He helped coordinate the online silent auction.
“Missouri Western has a lot of nontraditional students,” Wilkinson said. “[Night at the Ritz] is a nontraditional fundraiser for the community, alumni and things of the such. It’s an event for them to go to and get them all together.”
The reception included the silent auction, catering, a wandering musician and even an activity where patrons could “paint” with light using long exposure photography, just as Picasso himself had done. Centerpieces made by Western art students were also available for sale.
Among those who attended were several recipients of the Ambassador’s Scholarship, such as Stacey Southard, one of Western’s nursing students.
“I was asked to volunteer, and because they helped me out, I volunteered to come help,” Southard said. “It’s a good opportunity to meet the community.”
While the Night at the Ritz’s theme may have been “Picasso” for 2016, giving thanks to those community members who have generously given so much to Western’s nontraditional students has been an underlying theme since the scholarship’s conception.