“Education is something that can’t be taken away. It empowers people.”
These words from Melissa Arellano-Murasky speak to the heart of her desire to provide scholarships to Arizona State University students who have been victims of domestic violence. She has experience with domestic violence — in her own life and through her experience working at a shelter. “I saw so many women who didn't have access to education, forced to return to their homes and their abusers. They felt trapped.”
More than a decade ago, on the recommendation of her financial advisor, Murasky began working with the ASU Foundation for A New American University to establish a scholarship fund. “I had a great experience working with the foundation,” Murasky says. “With my involvement in the process, they worked out all the details.” She continues to add to the fund in the hope it will grow, and her goal is $1 million. “It has paid out five scholarships so far,” She says proudly.
She has also taken out a life insurance policy with the foundation named as beneficiary in order to reach her goal. “The policy is a good way to maximize my money and it ensures my legacy,” she says.
A meaningful part of the whole effort for Melissa has been the thank-you letters she receives. “The very first recipient wrote to me of her horrific experience and how she had survived and is caring for a son with special needs,” Murasky remembers. “She is now going to be able to support him. It was such an inspiration to continue making these gifts. It taught me if you really want to get something done, you can.”
Murasky’s husband supports her commitment, and she has shared her plans with her young children as well. “I hope to inspire them to continue what I have started.”
Her only regret in this whole experience is that she wishes she had more to give. “Having the foundation choose the recipients each year is difficult when there are so many who could benefit. Sometimes it boils down to looking at what they are studying and answering the question, ‘Where is the capacity for the most change in the world?’”
Her generosity is — and will be — a catalyst for change in the lives of many deserving students.