Peer-to-peer philanthropy

WSU students set up funds to help their classmates succeed

Weifan Yuan

Weifan Yuan, a second-year doctoral student in the WSU physical therapy program, established a fund to help PT students pay for their educations. He plans to complete his doctoral program in May 2014.

Most college students naturally are preoccupied by concerns about their financial well-being. The notion of giving away their own money to help other students may seem unrealistic, even outlandish.

   But within the past year, three Wichita State students did just that.

   While still students, Josh McBride and Jake Peters established the McBride-Peters New Player Scholarship for students on the WSU bowling team. And Weifan Yuan established the Qinxi Fan Doctoral Assistance Fund in Physical Therapy.

Josh McBride

Josh McBride

   It’s rare for students to set up scholarships or other aid for their fellow students, says Sheelu Surender, associate director for scholarships in the WSU Office for Financial Aid.

   “Most students are trying to pay for school themselves so they usually don’t have the personal funds to establish a scholarship,” she says. “However, some students are so passionate about a cause or giving back to their campus community that they find a way to make their dreams of providing support a reality.  I applaud those with a philanthropic drive so early in their careers.”

   Yuan, 23 and a second-year doctoral student in physical therapy, credits his parents, who live in China, with instilling in him the values of generosity and charity.

   “My parents taught me that you don’t need to wait for the perfect moment,” he says. “You don’t have to be rich and have a business and have everything in line to help others.”

   Yuan says he was moved to help his peers financially because they have done so much to help him academically, particularly when his English language skills made school work difficult for him. “They are a very important factor in where I am today,” he says.

   Yuan has pledged $1,000 a year for five years to the Qinxi Fan Doctoral Assistance Fund in Physical Therapy, which he named in honor of his girlfriend. The inaugural awards were made April 5. Yuan’s hope is to continue giving back to Wichita State by someday endowing the fund for future generations of students.

   Josh McBride and Jake Peters, four-year starters for the Shocker Men’s Bowling Team, established the McBride-Peters New Player Scholarship before graduating in May 2012. Recognizing the importance of academics, they chose to award a new player each spring who achieved the highest grade point average the previous semester. The first award was made this spring semester.

   “They wanted the student who puts classes first to be recognized for not getting caught up in the transitional stuff” of being a new college student, says Gordon Vadakin, WSU men’s bowling coach. “They understand that education is vital.”

Jake Peters

Jake Peters

   Peters got his degree in entrepreneurship and has stayed in the Wichita area. He is pursuing a career in professional bowling. McBride earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and currently lives in Des Moines, Iowa. He still enjoys bowling on a recreational level.

   McBride and Peters say they benefitted so much from WSU bowling that they wanted to cultivate the same experience for future team members. They plan to continue funding the $500-a-year scholarship for years to come. Vadakin hopes their philanthropic spirit will inspire others.

   “If I’m an alumnus of this bowling program and I see two students start a scholarship, it sends a message to me,” he says. “If these guys can help, why can’t I? That’s what’s so powerful about their message.”


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