Opening Doors to Portland's Future
Paying for college is just one of many, many, hurdles in earning a degree. Any given student can be confronted with challenges ranging from finding reliable childcare and transportation to overcoming a personal obstacle like a major injury. Many Portland students and families find ways to make it work, others simply wouldn’t have the opportunity if it wasn’t for scholarships and grants.
The Portland State University Foundation is preparing to throw its largest annual event in October: The Simon Benson Awards. Named for one of Oregon’s first philanthropists, it’s a celebration of the impact of philanthropy on the university and the Portland community. Sponsors and businesses new and old come together to help make it all happen.
The program for this year’s dinner includes a well-appointed honors ceremony for the late Bill and Ann Swindels as well as an Alumni Achievement award ceremony. Colin O’Brady who became the first person in history to cross Antarctica on an unsupported trek will be the keynote speaker of the event. Though the PSU foundation has raised millions since its beginning, the Simon Benson Dinner itself has raised more than $13 million since 1999 alone. (For more details from the PSU Foundation annual report, click here.)
Stories of Impact
In looking at previous year’s stories of impact, the effect these scholarships have on student’s lives is clear:
A sophomore who has come all the way from Botswana, Africa is following her dreams towards becoming a cardiac surgeon. She moved to the United States by herself when she was 16 after graduating High school. She decided her career path after losing a close relative before he turned three to a congenital heart defect.
Andrade says, “I would not be at PSU” if it were not for the generosity of donors. Karla is a senior with her sights set on broadcast journalism specifically with a focus on telling the stories of Latino immigrants. Not only is she the first in her family to attend college, but she is a recipient of the President’s Equal Access Scholarship.
Coleman gave an inspiring thank-you message at the 2015 awards dinner after a challenging recovery from a major surgery so that he could return to football and complete his degree in psychology.
To read more stories, click here.
A Community that Comes Together
One of the remarkable things to consider when looking at the Simon Benson Awards is just how much of a community effort the event is. Business owners and philanthropists come together to invest in Portland’s future on a grand scale. The owners of Stevens IS, Rich and Dave, are both PSU Business School graduates of the class of 1989, and have been taking part in the event for over ten years. They feel that supporting the university with this and other events is a way they could give back.
“Many of these scholarships recipients would not have the ability to go to college without this tuition assistance. Supporting PSU’s Foundation and allowing students to have opportunities for higher education is a great reason to give to this event.” -Dave, Stevens IS
Part of Stevens IS’ role for the event is to provide the printed materials. Here’s a sample from the 2018 event and sneak peek at 2019.
To find out more about what you can do to support the PSU Foundation, click here.