Since 1991 the President's Club has provided scholarships to more than 40 ASU students. Funded by an endowment separate from the ASU President's Investment Fund, President's Club Scholarships are based on financial need, academic success, community service and university involvement, and achievement of goals.
The aspirations of this year’s four President’s Club Scholars are inspiring: a future air traffic controller, chemical engineer, professional sports executive and information systems manager. Three are students at ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College. All four are active, passionate volunteers for the underprivileged and for children.
Their successes and dedication are even more impressive in light of the challenges each has overcome – and continues to overcome – to be a student at ASU: poverty, physical disability, early loss of parents, responsibility for younger siblings and even grandparents. But the four of them are unceasingly positive and committed to getting the most of their ASU experience.
As one of them wrote, “There is a noticeable difference in my level of confidence, my ability to interact with student groups, professors, my fellow students individually and visitors to the university. I know I will do great things with my future and I will be able to guide others to do the same.”
“Through the President's Club,” says Chelsea Medbury, “I learned I have the ability to lead, to make good decisions, to benefit others and be a productive and valuable member of society.” Leadership is a skill Chelsea developed despite health challenges facing her and her mother. Autoimmune disease prevents her mother from working and paying for Chelsea’s education. Chelsea is confronted with a significant hearing impairment, and the substantial costs of maintaining the cochlear implant that provides some hearing. Throughout high school she worked multiple jobs, a schedule impossible for a college senior carrying a magna cum laude GPA in a dual-degree program, yet finding time to volunteer in the community. “Having the support of the President's Club, knowing they believe in me,” Chelsea says, “lets me know that I will be a success and that my future is bright.”
Ashley Smith is a student at Barrett, The Honors College, studying to be an air traffic controller and committed to earning a 4.0 GPA and eventually her pilot’s license. Just three years ago a family tragedy forced Ashley to drop out of community college to work full time and support her family. She still found time to volunteer, working with homeless children, teens and young adults at Stand Up for Kids. Today, her President’s Club scholarship allows her to study in one of the most advanced air traffic simulation centers in a university setting in the country, in ASU’s College of Technology and Innovation. “Getting to where I am today has been difficult,” Ashley says, “but through my experiences I have gained confidence in my abilities to use my resources and turn an obstacle into a success.”
Jason Heckendorn says his first few hours as an ASU freshman were “sensational.” Then came the police officer who told him his mother died that morning. Her mental illness had distanced them, but Jason was still conflicted. “I considered dropping out,” he recalls, but because she always valued the well-being of Jason and his brother, “The only way I saw fit to honor her life was by living mine to its fullest.” Jason’s President’s Club scholarship is making that possible, particularly welcome because of the financial straits his grandparents, his guardians, were facing. For Jason, “life to its fullest” means he’s a senior in Barrett, The Honors College, with a marketing-management double major in the W. P. Carey School. It has also meant an unpaid internship with the Phoenix Suns on behalf of underprivileged children; work Jason couldn’t do without President’s Club support.
From the age of 16, Ching Yan Lau —known as Winnie — has worked to help support her family. Since their emigration from Hong Kong when Winnie was 3, language issues have prevented her parents from finding better than minimum-wage jobs. Winnie didn’t let language get in her way when she traveled to Peru last summer to teach reading, writing, nutrition and sanitation for a girls’ home. Winnie is studying chemical engineering at Barrett, the Honors College to, as she says, “immerse myself with a degree that benefits our environment along with our society.” The local community is benefiting from Winnie’s dedication during her internship with the City of Phoenix Water System. Winnie credits the President’s Club for the opportunities ahead: “I marvel at where I first came from, what I have accomplished and where I envision myself going.”