Scholarships cleared the path for this Shocker grad

Alice Fitzgerald

Receiving dual degrees in economics and finance and three minors in political science, management and music performance, Alice Fitzgerald had her hands full as a Shocker student. Graduating this spring with magna cum laude distinction while maintaining her involvement on campus, the now-alumna made it look easy, but it wasn’t always that way, and she wouldn’t have gotten there without the help of scholarships.

“My first year, I experienced problems with housing insecurity,” she said. “I was couch-surfing for a few months before school started.”

In the summer of 2019, what should have been an exciting period before starting her college career, she found herself questioning whether the future she anticipated was a possibility.

In order to work full time, she reduced her class load and time on campus. “When you’re working 40 hours a week, taking five classes, studying: That takes up most of your time,” she said. “And that’s before you even consider the time spent making meals and doing laundry—those basic things you need to do to survive.”

The effects of financial insecurity reach well beyond the classroom, influencing students’ quality of life, as well. “There’s a kind of hyperawareness that comes with financial insecurity and poverty,” Fitzgerald said. “You’re always waiting for the shoe to drop. It’s not necessarily paranoia, because oftentimes there’s a very real reason to worry.”

It was the generosity of Shocker supporters that made her time at WSU possible. Receiving the C. Damon Hecker Scholarship, the Lura Maye Wagnon Endowed Scholarship and the Eveans Family Endowed Scholarship provided Fitzgerald the funds to continue her education. She was able to reduce her working hours and find ways to get involved on campus as well. During her four years at Wichita State, she participated in Student Government Association, Student Ambassadors’ Society, Barton International Group and the Shocker Sound Machine—just to name a few.

“Not having to constantly worry about money leaves so much more time for studying, connecting with professors and making friends with people in your class,” she said. “A $100 or $200 scholarship can mean the difference between being able to afford a book for a class and not being able to. It can mean the difference between struggling and succeeding.”

Her academic success is phenomenal, but her story is not unique; many WSU students face financial insecurity while pursuing a degree, which is why need-based aid remains a top fundraising priority for the university.

“I hope to donate to student scholarships in the future,” Fitzgerald said. “Without the scholarships I am receiving today, that dream would be impossible.”

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