Make a Way initiative encourages students to help fund scholarships

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The cost of higher education is often the topic of headlines across the country, and can be a barrier to young people dreaming of attaining a college degree.

A group of Lipscomb University students is helping to remove that barrier by launching a campaign to raise funds for student scholarships — the Make A Way scholarship.

The Make A Way initiative developed from an a tugging at Ralston Drake’s heart when thinking about how difficult it can be to afford a college education.

“I am a tour guide in the admissions office, and I sometimes give tours to groups of students from low-income situations,” says Drake, a junior theology major. “A question I often get is, ‘how much does it cost to go here?’ After talking about that as well as the scholarship opportunities that are available, I can just sense that they feel that a Lipscomb education isn’t attainable.”

Drake said those encounters are “unsettling” to him because he believes Lipscomb has had a major impact on his life.

“Lipscomb has done so much for me,” he says. “It’s allowed me to study abroad. It’s allowed me to go and pursue my dreams. It’s allowed me to meet incredible friends who I know will be there for me for the rest of my life. It makes me sad to think that someone else can’t have that opportunity simply because they can’t afford it.”

So Drake and a few of his friends thought about what they could do to help, and they came up with the idea for the Make A Way scholarship, where students could help fund scholarships for other students.

“A way was made for us to come to college by family or by other scholarships, so why not have students help make a way for someone else,” says Drake.   

“Students serving students is so important,” says Gabby Cannone, a senior English major, “because we are the ones who has had this experience at Lipscomb and knows what this school has to offer. We have been blessed and fortunate enough to receive, so giving back to future students is an opportunity that I really can’t afford to pass up.”

Having students come up with ways to help other students is very meaningful, says Scott McDowell, senior vice president for student life.

“It’s thrilling that these students see the blessing the education is to them and that they want to make a way for someone else,” he says. “I just think that’s exactly how it’s supposed to work. Gratitude is supposed to engender generosity. What these students see is the potential in these students that are coming through here wanted to be at Lipscomb but who are not being able to find a way. And for our students to step up and to say, we’re going to help find a way, that is encouraging.”

Drake says the Make A Way initiative is about more than just giving someone an opportunity for a Lipscomb education.

“This is about changing communities. This is about changing lives. This is about families,” he says. “That’s all done through access to higher education where people can come and see the possibilities of their dreams becoming a reality.”

Cannone says it’s easy for students to get involved in the initiative. She says for the cost of one cup of coffee a week — approximately four dollars per cup — students can make a difference.

“That’s about $64 a semester,” she says. “We’re really only asking students to give up one cup of coffee per week and to contribute that toward the Make A Way scholarship fund.”

Students or anyone wanting to contribute to the Make A Way scholarship fund may go to www.lipscomb.edu/gift, select “other” in the first pull-down menu and type “Make A Way” in the next field. For additional information, contact Drake at rsdrake@mail.lipscomb.edu.