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By Maggie Tomasek
The 15th annual Alliant Member Scholarship Program winners have been selected, and they are a remarkable group of academically gifted students who are actively involved in their schools and their communities.
Each year, Alliant offers these 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 ongoing Civic Affairs initiatives.
Evaluations are based on four criteria: academic performance, community involvement, personal goals and the applicants’ essays about what Alliant means to them. More than 200 members applied for this year’s scholarship program, and five winners were selected to receive $2,000 each for the 2017-2018 school year.
Let’s get to know this year’s Alliant Member Scholarship winners:
Shawna Jamieson, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Shawna is a wellness practitioner who is furthering her education “to integrate knowledge of Western medicine into the practice of 5,000-year-old Ayurveda medicine” at the California College of Ayurveda. Shawna said she thinks that by understanding the whole person – physically, emotionally and spiritually – she will be able to support each person on their journey toward optimal health. She has been an ongoing student for life while also working full time.
Shawna has served as a board member for various organizations, helping arrange lectures and programs in her community. Her family regularly donates money and goods to the SEVA Foundation, which works to reverse and prevent blindness in developing countries, and to ECCO, a local community outreach program that provides health services for those in need.
Shawna, a single mother of two, put her daughter through college and is preparing for her son to go to college in two years. As a 31-year Alliant member, Shawna said the credit union has been there for her through all of her ups and downs, and this scholarship will allow her to give back by putting her “knowledge, talent and skills to optimal use.”
Adelaide Kelly, Bartlett, Illinois
Adelaide is a junior at St. Louis University, where she is an anthropology student with a 3.77 GPA. She said her studies provide “a new perspective on marginalized and overlooked groups of people,” and she hopes to use that knowledge and perspective to “unite people to approach the world with their similarities in mind, not their differences.”
Adelaide prepares food for those in need through SLU’s Campus Kitchen and helps international students adjust to life on campus as part of the SLU international ambassadors program. She also serves as an Alpha Phi Omega pledge parent, supervising and meeting weekly with new students and organizing frequent events for them to attend.
Adelaide said the financial know-how she gained from Alliant, along with establishing a credit history and saving money with strong rates, allowed her to study abroad in Santiago, Chile. “This was a wonderful opportunity to work on my Spanish, challenge myself to be independent, and learn about a new culture. It was my first time being away from home in a foreign country alone, and I could not have done it without Alliant.”
Jenny Steindl, Salem, New York
Jenny is a freshman pre-med student at Duke University. She said she wants become a doctor and serve in the U.S. military “to help care for the brave men and women who serve our country along with their selfless families.”
She graduated as the salutatorian of her class at Greenwich Central School and exhibited extensive community involvement. Jenny coached youth sports; she volunteered with the American Red Cross, Saratoga Hospital’s SSOAR Emergency Department, Equinox Community Thanksgiving meal preparation, Give Hunger the Boot, Greenwich Lions Club and Wreaths Across America; and she took part in the Air Force Reserve/Air National Guard Teen Leadership Summit.
While Jenny has been an Alliant member since she was a young child, she said she didn’t truly appreciate what Alliant has done for her, what she has learned because of the credit union, and how Alliant helps the community until much more recently. “Because of Alliant, I consider myself to be a conscientious saver who is money-smart,” she wrote. “Alliant’s community involvement proves their passion and dedication not only to helping members and their families, but the entire community as a whole.”
Erik Takada, Goodyear, Arizona
This fall, Erik started his freshman year at Yale University. He said he is pursuing undergraduate, Ph.D. and M.D. degrees in order to reach his ultimate goal of finding a treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which his grandmother suffers from.
Erik graduated at the top of his class from Estrella Foothills High School with a 4.0 GPA. He was a member of the varsity tennis team and math club and also served as a peer mentor with the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center. Erik worked as a program specialist for the Arizona Science Center’s youth camps and was the vice president of his school’s Health Occupation Students of America chapter.
Erik said when he opened his Alliant Free Teen Checking Account, his mother empowered him to manage all aspects of the account, including calling Alliant’s Member Contact Center when he lost his debit card and discovered an incorrect charge on his account. Erik said he was apprehensive about calling at first, but the friendly rep he spoke to help put those worries to rest. “It showed me that I belonged to a credit union that cares for its customers, not just their money.”
Jurian Van Riper, Rome, Georgia
Jurian is a freshman at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, where he is studying computer engineering. He plans to eventually pursue a Master’s degree, but initially, he said he wants to find a position in his field designing and/or building computers.
Jurian graduated from Rome High School in 2017 with a 3.96 GPA. As a National Honor Society member, he helped organize a Relay for Life event, a Red Cross blood drive, a toy drive for foster children and a canned food drive while also tutoring struggling underclassmen in math.
Jurian joined Alliant when he was 6 years old, and he said being a member has long provided him with an important sense of security, but now it means even more than that. “I see it as an opportunity. As I am approaching adulthood and branching out into the world, I know that I can rely on Alliant Credit Union to help with my financial needs … I have a place where I have financial security when it comes to my savings and where I am given the opportunity to further my education and improve my life.”
Maggie Tomasek is the PR and Social Media Specialist at Alliant. She began her career as a journalist for newspapers in Utica, N.Y., Des Moines and Cincinnati before moving to Chicago in 2009. Maggie is a six-time Chicago Marathon finisher and a lifelong creative writer with a passion for comedy. Her mom instilled in her a great sense of fiscal responsibility, and her big sister told her to throw that responsibility out the window every once in a while in the name of life experience. So far, that combination of financial advice has worked out pretty well for her.