Forward, Together, Forward Scholarship awarded to 5 students

By Kyla Gardner

DeKALB | Five students were each awarded the prestigious Forward, Together, Forward scholarship Monday.

The recipients of the scholarship were Kelsey Borg, junior speech-language pathology major; Mayra Diaz, junior Spanish and international politics major; Jasmine Land, junior marketing major; Justin Larsen, junior communications major and Reneka Turner, senior nursing major.

The scholarship was created to honor the memory of the five students killed during the Feb. 14 shootings, said Anne Hardy, director of the Scholarship Office.

Hardy said the scholarship is unique because it is based on students’ character in addition to academic and service achievements. Students must demonstrate “integrity, motivation, inspiration, a high regard for others, a strong work ethic and intellectual curiosity.”

Hardy said the students selected this year are excellent representatives of NIU.

“The list of their achievements and contributions to the university community is endless,” she said, “The memories of those we lost will continue to live on through [their] actions and contributions.”

The scholarship recipients attended a private luncheon and award ceremony Monday with NIU President John Peters and families of the victims of the shootings. Hardy said the purpose was not only to mourn with the families but to “celebrate the joys of life.”

Hardy said the qualifications of the applicant pool for the scholarship this year were especially impressive. The Scholarship Office received 74 applications and interviewed 25 of those students for the five awards.

To apply, scholarship applicants wrote essays about what it means to be an NIU Huskie, and if and how tragedy reveals character. Applicants also wrote about their dreams and how they will honor the memory of Gayle Dubowski, Catalina Garcia, Julianna Gehant, Ryanne Mace and Daniel Parmenter. Applicants submitted a recommendation from an NIU faculty or staff member and one additional recommendation.

Winners were chosen by a “campus-wide” committee of faculty and staff, Hardy said.

The scholarship was established in 2008 and first awarded in 2009, Hardy said. The $4,000 scholarship is funded through donations and the fund contains over $700,000 currently.

The next opportunity to apply for the annual scholarship will be in September, according to the Scholarship Office’s website.