DeVry Education Group Scholarship Fund

Annual Golf Outing Helps Fund Hundreds of Scholarships

By DeVry University

For the past four years, as late September approaches, you’ll find administrators and staff in DeVry’s suburban Chicago office keenly interested in the weather forecast. Why?

Since 2012, The DeVry Education Group Scholarship Fund has held its annual golf outing fundraiser in September. It’s the Fund’s premiere event, at which thousands of dollars are raised for scholarships that help support DeVry University students, and those attending other DeVry Education Group schools, who need financial assistance to continue in school. Good weather makes for a good day on the course!

“The goal of the Scholarship Fund is straightforward: Help students improve their lives through higher education by enabling them, financially, to pursue their academic and career goals,” explained Tom Babel, Fund chairman.

Since its inception, the golf outing has helped raise more than $1.2 million for scholarships. As a result of last September's event, the Fund received nearly $450,000 in contributions. Proceeds from the 2015 golf outing – combined with generous support of alumni, corporate partners, private parties, and DeVry faculty and staff – will yield scholarships for more than 640 students in the 2016–2017 academic year.

“We had a picture-perfect day on the course in 2015,” Babel said, “but it was the inspiring words of two award winners that brought the power of scholarships to life.”

Recipients Tell Stories of Success
At the annual golf outing, recent scholarship recipients Shavonna Allen and Catherine Thompson proudly shared their stories of perseverance. Allen, who attended DVU’s Chicago Loop campus and graduated this year with a degree in Technical Management, vividly recalled an email from Ron Cimo, senior manager of the Fund. “I had an overwhelming hunch I should check my inbox,” said Allen. “And there it was – a message from Mr. Cimo telling me my prayers had been answered…I’d earned a scholarship. I was so excited, I started doing jumping jacks!”

That message of hope came as Allen was just a few sessions into her degree program, which she began in 2014 at age 33. “At the time many kids go to college, I was busy taking care of my grandmother and helping look after all my siblings,” Allen said. But after her grandmother passed and a string of what she termed “just jobs,” Allen knew the time had come to pursue her career goals. “I was driven by two things: my belief that education is a necessity, not a luxury, and by an overwhelming need to be a role model for my family.”

So while working full time at an accounting firm, Allen started her bachelor’s degree program and never looked back. Along the way, she maintained a 4.0 GPA, joined the campus Accounting Club and was inducted into international business honor society Delta Mu Delta.

With graduation behind her and degree in hand, Allen is driving toward her next big goal – opening her own forensic accounting firm. “It’ll be my Christmas present to myself this year,” Allen beamed. “Thanks to those who made my scholarship possible, I now have the opportunity and expertise to help people and businesses in my community. Life’s good.”

Joining Allen and the golfers was scholarship recipient Catherine Thompson, who’s on track to complete her undergraduate degree in June.

Thompson’s DVU story began in late 2013. Negatively impacted by the collapse of the banking and finance industry, Thompson determined a bachelor’s degree was a must. Building on a prior college experience, she enrolled at DeVry’s Addison campus, transferring in previously earned qualifying credits.

“I had to do this for me. And I needed to show my three nephews, whom I foster, that a college education is possible,” explained Thompson. Once she’d made education a priority, Thompson excelled. Her award from the Scholarship Fund was earned for being on the Dean’s List every semester.

Dean’s List…no easy feat considering what Thompson endured early on at DeVry. After her first semester, she underwent surgery. Earning As in three classes while recovering, Thompson enrolled for her next session and was again hit by adversity – this time suffering the tragic loss of a loved one. “I’ve been through a lot, but my circumstances have bolstered me,” Thompson said. “I plan to graduate summa cum laude at age 37 and will be the first in my family with a college degree.”

What’s next for her? Drawing on her education, Thompson is tapping into her calling as a social entrepreneur and building a business to help financially underprivileged high schoolers get into, as well as cover travel expenses to and from, college.

“I know firsthand how helpful scholarships are for offsetting tuition and fees, but even applying to college can be cost-prohibitive. And out-of-state schools can mean increased travel expenses. My business will be designed to bridge such financial gaps,” said Thompson. “I’m being the change I want to see in my community. In terms of education, I didn’t have great role models growing up. Perhaps that’s why I’m so driven to set a good example for others and enable them to thrive.”

“Helping students like Shavonna and Catherine pursue their academic and career goals is exactly why The DeVry Education Group Scholarship Fund exists,” Babel explained. “Meeting these women and learning how they plan to apply their education to the greater good was the perfect end to our annual golf fundraiser. Here’s to helping more students in 2016 – and to equally great weather this September!”