Crossroads: From surviving to thriving

Almost as quickly as the pandemic descended upon Iowa State University this March, donors reached out to step up their support for students in need. Emergency-fund support for more than a dozen students was made possible by the philanthropy of Jerry (‘62 agricultural business) and Karen Kolschowsky (’08 honorary degree).

“We were glad to support a fund that offers reassurance and a vote of confidence to students in crisis,” says Jerry Kolschowsky.

“This year has demonstrated the kind of unforeseen crossroads that some students encounter on their path to a promising future. It’s always been our greatest joy to see young people — at Iowa State and across the world — equipped to reach their potential and with the opportunity to lead a fulfilling life.”

Daniel J. Robison, holder of the Endowed Dean’s Chair in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, reallocated $150,000 from available Iowa State University Foundation accounts to COVID-19 emergency support. The infusion of funds bolstered the college’s emergency grant coffers of $150,000. And, donors stepped up with an additional $123,555 for agriculture and life sciences students in need. Of the $423,555, more than $320,000 was promptly distributed to 183 students in need by September.

Angelia Intini, a junior in animal science from Naperville, Illinois, says financial instability caused by COVID-19 was causing her to fall behind with her car and insurance payments. She was concerned she may not be able to stay enrolled and support herself. She reached out to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Student Services Office for help.

“Personally, I am surviving. But, it’s hard not to get overwhelmed,” she wrote in an email to Howard Tyler, assistant dean of student services in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “I’m in shock, and I seriously cried when I read this,” Intini wrote to Tyler in response to receiving financial support. “I have no idea how I can thank you. I don’t know if I ever can, but I know someday I wish to pay it forward.”

Tyler says emergency aid can often be the determining factor in getting a student to graduation.

“Our records show graduation rates for students who have received emergency grants are just a shade under 90 percent,” he says.

The support students receive from the college extends far beyond finances to personal and academic assistance.

“I will be forever grateful for this kindness you have shown me,” wrote Intini. “And to Dr. [Jennifer] Bundy who is an amazing ray of sunshine I admire as my adviser and professor. I have so much gratitude.”

In addition to college efforts, the ISU Foundation’s Cyclone Strong fund brought in more than $100,000 from more than 450 donors since March. Of the $70,000 allocated for financial aid, $47,000 had been awarded to students by the beginning of the fall semester, with approximately 60 students receiving critical financial assistance helping to pay for everything from groceries to medicine.