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By Pam Leibfried
The winners of the 14th annual Alliant Members Scholarship Program have been selected, and they’re an impressive group of academically gifted students who are active in service at their schools and in their local communities.
Each year, Alliant offers scholarships as part of its mission to further the financial well being and financial literacy of its members and their families. Alliant employees volunteer to evaluate the students’ transcripts and applications as part of Alliant’s Civic Affairs initiatives.
“We were pleased to receive over 200 entries for this year’s contest,” said Alliant’s Marketing Operations Representative Sherry Allen, who managed this year’s program. “The team members who volunteered to evaluate the applications were very impressed by this year’s pool of high-achieving applicants.”
Evaluations were based on four criteria: academic performance, community involvement, personal goals and the applicants’ statements of what Alliant means to them. This year’s winners include student government officeholders, debaters, school club founders, mathletes, scholar athletes and talented musical theater performers.
Five winners were selected to receive $2,000 each for the 2016-2017 school year. Congratulations to this year’s winners!
Katherine Schwichtenberg, Gurnee, Illinois,
Katherine is a senior at the University of South Carolina in Columbia majoring in political science and history, with a 3.98 GPA. In the 2016 spring semester, she interned in the U.S. Senate and plans to pursue a career in public service because she is “a firm believer that effective government policies can truly make a difference in people’s lives.”
Katherine is a Capstone Scholars Fellow and a founding member of her campus’ Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women, which supports the Read Lead Achieve Foundation, among other philanthropic activities. A mentor to students at the Hand Middle School, Katherine helps students reach both personal and academic goals. She has also been a campaign volunteer for local, state and national candidates.
Being a member of Alliant has helped Katherine learn to be financially responsible. She appreciated that when she and her parents came to Alliant for a student loan, the Alliant branch employee they met with explained the details of the loan to her – and not just to her parents. She also wrote that she knows she can count on Alliant to be there when she needs help: “Member service representatives are there 24/7, which was important for me when I had my credit card information stolen last year. When it comes to money, trust is key, and Alliant has built my trust and truly helped me become more financially literate.”
Nicholas Gricus, Bloomingdale, Illinois
Nicholas graduated with a GPA of 5.1 from Lake Park High School in Roselle, Illinois. He is now a freshman at DePaul University majoring in economics and political science with a minor in Spanish. Ultimately, he plans to pursue an MBA or law degree with a long-term goal of a career in politics.
Nicholas was the president of his school’s National Honor Society chapter and competed on his school’s math team. He was a secretary of state, committee chair and a first place state winner in the Illinois Youth and Government group. He also founded and served as president of an anti-bullying group, “Stand for the Silent.” Outside school, he worked with special needs students as a “Lancer Heroes” member and raised funds for an organization raising awareness of animal blindness.
Why does Nicholas love banking at Alliant? For him, it comes down to stability and trust: “When it came to learning about money in a purposeful manner, my parents trusted Alliant…and Alliant has undeniably proven its trustworthiness and dedication to my future.”
Ashritha Rao, Katy, Texas
Ashritha is a freshman studying Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Her ultimate career goal is to become an orthopedic doctor. She maintained a 4.415 GPA at Obra D. Tompkins High School while taking multiple Advanced Placement classes, and participated in an impressive array of extracurricular and volunteer activities.
Ashritha was treasurer of the Red Cross Club and was active in the Health Occupational Students of America (HOSA), the Glocal Action Club and the National Honor Society. In addition to charitable work with school clubs, she volunteered at memorial Hermann Hospital, visited the elderly at Sunrise Senior Living and walked dogs for Mutts and Meow.
In addition to her extensive volunteer work and extracurricular schedule, Ashritha held down a part-time job two nights a week for the past two years. She worked at Kumon after-school enrichment programs, where she taught math and reading and helped grade papers.
Through her part-time job, Ashritha earned money that she saved in her Alliant Savings and Teen Checking accounts. She appreciates that being an Alliant accountholder at such a young age gave her the opportunity to learn about budgeting and saving: “Most banking systems do not grant teenagers the opportunity to obtain both a checking and savings account: Alliant helps me feel great pride as a self-sufficient young woman.”
Brendan Lynch, Northglenn, Colorado
Brendan just started his studies at the University of Colorado Boulder as a double major in electrical engineering and musical theater. He recently graduated from Jefferson Academy in Broomfield, Colorado, where he maintained a 4.54 GPA. During his time at Jefferson Academy, he was the president of the Key Club, founder of the school’s Debate Club, class secretary and an officer in the Drama Club and Music Honors Society, in addition to serving as student body treasurer. He performed in the Northglenn Youth Theatre and the Select Vocal Ensemble and was a soloist in All State Choir.
Brendan participates in the Colorado Youth Summit on historic preservation issues, performs for the residents of a local senior home and volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House.
Brendan appreciates Alliant’s friendly, smiling branch staff on the occasions when he banks in person, and loves the convenience of making online transactions so he can spend more time on “the things that make life worth living: things like family, friends and personal passions.”
Sophie Miller, Park Ridge, Illinois
Sophie carried a 4.85 GPA at Maine South High School in Park Ridge, Illinois, while taking a challenging course load that included multiple Advanced Placement and dual-credit classes. She is now pursuing pre-med studies in biology and neuroscience in Tulane University in New Orleans. She is considering a specialty in pediatric surgery.
Sophie was a four-year three-sport athlete who won the “hustle” award in basketball and the “best attitude” award in volleyball. She was awarded Illinois High School Association Scholastic Achievement Awards in volleyball, basketball and soccer.
She was named an Illinois State Scholar and won numerous other academic and leadership awards, including the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen Award. Sophie tutored math and science, participated in a local Buddy Baseball program, served in mentoring programs and was part of a suicide awareness team at her school.
In addition to pursuing athletic and academic excellence, Sophie has gained work experience as a babysitter, a dog walker and a counselor at a local sports camp. Her aunt opened an Alliant kidz klub Savings Account for her when Sophie was a small child; years of accumulated Christmas and birthday money will help her buy textbooks and pay dorm fees.
She appreciates Alliant’s “exceptional customer service” and the knowledge that her money is in good hands: “Belonging to Alliant makes me excited because I know I will be able to achieve my goals while being a financially healthy person. Also, it brings me closer to my aunt, who is my role model with her dedication to service and her diligent work ethic.”
Pam Leibfried is a marketing content specialist whose love of words led to a writing and editing career. After a brief stint teaching English, she transitioned to corporate communications and spent 20 years at The Nielsen Company before joining Alliant’s content development team. Early in her work life, Pam’s friend Matt explained the benefits of a 401(k) and her dad encouraged her to start a Roth IRA. Their good counsel prompted her to prioritize retirement savings, which just might enable her to retire early so she can read more and live out the slogan on her fave T-shirt: “I have a retirement plan: I plan on quilting.”