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Ferris students create scholarship for incoming freshmen

BIG RAPIDS – Ferris State University greek honors society Order of Omega was inspired to help incoming freshmen, so the group created a $500 scholarship for Big Rapids High School students who will be attending Ferris. What they didn’t expect was to inspire University officials to match the scholarship, allowing two students to receive funds.

Order of Omega began raising money for the scholarship in September 2007. According to President Rachel Paternoster choosing just one recipient was nearly impossible. “We received two submissions that were almost identical. Both students were very involved and had a high GPA. We decided to ask the Scholarship Office for their help.”

Instead of helping the students choose just one candidate, the Ferris Scholarship Office also decided both students were worthy recipients, and donated an additional $500 so both students could receive a scholarship.

“We created this scholarship to help the future leaders of Ferris,” Paternoster said. “Thanks to the gracious donation from the Scholarship Office, we were able to help two deserving students.”

Normally, the legal paperwork needed for a scholarship to be approved is a long process, and the group began to think it would have to be awarded next year, she said. However, with the help of Yolonda Barnes, major gift officer for the College of Arts, Sciences and Education, the process took less than a month.

“Everyone involved really wanted to help an incoming freshman as soon as possible. With the help of Yolonda, we flew through the process and were able to award the scholarships at Big Rapids High School’s senior awards ceremony,” Paternoster added.

“We are so happy with and proud of all of our students,” Barnes said. “It is a delight to see our students take part in philanthropy and give back to those in need. It is especially exciting for me, in my role of raising funds, to enable students to attend Ferris, but it is even more exciting and even more worthwhile to see current students, by their giving, reach out and help future students begin their college adventure.”

Order of Omega was founded at the University of Miami in the fall of 1959 by a group of fraternity men, who felt that individuals in the greek community should be recognized for their service to the fraternity system and the university. Today, there are more than 300 chapters in the United States.

The goals of the organization are to recognize fraternity men and women who have attained a high standard of leadership in interfraternity activities, to encourage them to continue along this line and to inspire others to strive for similar conspicuous attainment. They further focus on bringing together members of the faculty, alumni and student members of the institution’s fraternities and sororities on a basis of mutual interest, understanding and helpfulness.