Animal Science/Pre-Veterinary Medicine major Kyle Rickle is a prime example of how University of Findlay’s Business Affiliates Scholarship Program positively impacts the students it assists.
At the program’s recent celebration breakfast to honor funding participants and introduce to them the students their dollars are helping, Rickle relayed how his scholarship has financially eased his challenges, which have included more than his fair share of health scares. Beginning in middle school, Rickle endured multiple brain surgeries, and while a UF undergraduate, survived enterohemorrhagic E-coli, a life-threatening intestinal infection.
Through it all, Rickle, a Findlay native and Liberty-Benton High School graduate, said he has been able to maintain a competitive GPA, serve on the president’s student advisory council, and work with area veterinarians. His Business Affiliates scholarship is a key component of his forward academic momentum.
Lydia Sparks, another scholarship recipient who is also from Findlay, shared her struggles as well. Sparks said she moved out of her mother’s home four months prior to graduating from high school to accommodate her sister and sister’s three children; her sister’s husband had died of a heroin overdose, necessitating an adjustment to the family’s living arrangements. Along with excelling in her studies, Sparks stepped up as an aunt to help care for the children.
At UF, Sparks has used her struggles as career inspiration; she hopes to become an intervention specialist within a regional school district. Meanwhile, she is also working at the University’s Shafter Library, volunteering as a tutor for the College of Education’s Clubhouse, which assists Hancock County K-12 students with literacy lessons; and remains active in the educational honor society.
“The truth is, I’m not here for myself,” Sparks told breakfast attendees. “I want to help others. UF has changed my life and I want to make a positive impact on others for the rest of their lives.”
Sparks’ localized career objective is in keeping with the Business Affiliates Scholarship Program, which seeks to cultivate and encourage professionals who intend to remain in the area, thereby enriching the workforce and those it serves.
Program participants provide critical financial support to UF students with financial need who either graduated from a Hancock County high school or who are currently employed by a Hancock County business.
“Business Affiliates Scholarships help to forge a bond between students and the community, enhancing the opportunity to keep talented young people in the area after graduation,” the program’s website explains.
“You don’t realize how impactful your support really is,” said scholarship recipient Mackenzie Wagner at the breakfast. Wagner always knew she wanted to attend UF, “but when that first tuition bill came, there was a lump in my throat,” she admitted. The University’s Financial Aid Office helped guide her through the process, and her Business Affiliates scholarship is providing her with much-needed help. “The stress of ‘how will I afford this’ doesn’t weigh so heavily on my mind now,” she explained.
This school year, 18 students are Business Affiliates Scholarship recipients, and a record number of dollars were collected. With regional leaders recognizing the value of uplifting students in pursuit of degrees at UF, support increased by 25 percent, according to Karen George, senior director of UF’s Office of Advancement.
For more information and to become a University of Findlay Business Affiliate committed to helping prepare future community leaders, visit the Program’s webpage.