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Recipients Express Gratitude and Speakers Offer Optimistic Messages at The Ferris Foundation for Excellence Benefit

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Valeria Gonzalez, a Nursing student from Grand Rapids, was among the Opportunity Endowed Scholarship recipients attending The Ferris Foundation For Excellence Benefit Friday, Nov. 4 in the Steelcase Ballroom of DeVos Place Convention Center.

Nearly 500 Ferris State University supporters, faculty members, staff and students gathered in the DeVos Place Convention Center Steelcase Ballroom on Friday, Nov. 4, during The Ferris Foundation For Excellence Benefit.

Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutics Namita Giri found she could augment the technology in her College of Pharmacy laboratory through a faculty/staff merit grant, which allowed her to gain a particle-sized analyzer.

“I research nanotechnology-based drug delivery, so adding this instrument to our lab has been an important advance for our studies,” Giri said. “We sent samples to the Detroit area before the COVID-19 pandemic, but in recent years, that process became extremely limited. So now we can gain the results on our own, on campus.”

Nursing student Valeria Gonzalez, of Grand Rapids, was already familiar with The Ferris Foundation for Excellence Benefit but found pleasure in returning to it as an Opportunity Endowed Scholarship recipient.

“I joined with others from the Hispanic/Latino Cultural Center who came here several years ago,” Gonzalez said. “I saw that The Ferris Foundation made these scholarships available, so I applied for and received this support.

It is very important to me, since I was working three jobs to meet the costs of my education, so this allowed me to reduce my work hours. Having the Opportunity Scholarship has reduced some stress I was facing, as I pursue my education.”

Following the opening reception, Ferris President Bill Pink spoke to the audience about the “honorable burden” the university faces in supporting excellence in its students, educational programs, and faculty members’ work in the classroom and through their research.

“If our founder and his wife put their lives out there saying that people of all races and backgrounds were deserving of an opportunity to better themselves through a college education, to sit alongside others who didn’t look like them, we do that now for our students,” Pink said. “Many of our students, before they are finished with us, are working in their profession. They are the very reason we do this work.”


Dana King, a 1982 alumna of Ferris’ College of Business and a 2022 Honorary Doctorate recipient, was the keynote speaker at The Ferris Foundation For Excellence Benefit Friday, Nov. 4, in Grand Rapids.

Dana King, a Class of 1982 alumna and a 2022 Honorary Doctorate, was the featured speaker.

“I can honestly say that the woman standing before you achieved in life because my time at Ferris allowed me to take risks, make mistakes, and find what was mine to do in the world,” King said. “My life has been blessed beyond measure. I am so grateful to this community for giving me a sense of belonging and welcome when I stepped through the doors at Ferris. I am so glad to be back.”

During a conversation with President Pink following her address, King said she intends to establish an endowed scholarship for a College of Pharmacy student in a tribute to her nephew, Dante Littlehorse James, who passed away in July 2021 at 27.

“I have been shown what is possible in terms of the wrap around services our Pharmacy students and graduates can offer, and am so impressed by this,” King said. “I feel this is an important way to build on Dante’s legacy.”

Tim Murphy, a 1983 graduate of the Criminal Justice program and chair of The Ferris Foundation Board of Directors, reminded the audience that the Ferris Futures Scholarship Challenge was extended to Dec. 31, 2024. More than $13 million in financial gifts have been matched to boost these endowed scholarships, established by alumni, university friends and industry partners.