A college degree is one of the most important investments you can make. College graduates earn more than their peers without a diploma, to the tune of an average of $20,000 more annually. Yet the cost of obtaining a college degree is becoming increasingly more and more expensive. As a result, the majority of college students are facing student debt. Que the importance of scholarship awards – they are no longer considered bonuses, but crucial components of the strategy to pay for higher education.

St. Teresa of Avila in Valparaiso started an endowment fund with the Catholic Foundation for Northwest Indiana in order to provide scholarships for parishioners pursuing a college degree. The principal assets are permanently invested, with earnings available for St. Teresa’s to disburse as scholarship awards. Scholarship recipients credit St. Teresa’s for not only investing financially in their future, but also in their faith formation, preparing them for a professional life grounded in giving back to their community.

Brittany Reynolds, a math, Spanish, and secondary education triple major at Valparaiso University and a member of St. Teresa of Avila, is excited to get in the workforce as a teacher. As a recipient of a scholarship from the St. Teresa of Avila Scholarship Fund through the Catholic Foundation for Northwest Indiana, Brittany is serious about her goal is to earn her degree with as little debt as possible. “I always hear of teachers spending their own money on their classroom and students, so the less debt I come out of college with, the more able I will be able to do as much as I can to help my students and be the best teacher I can be for them.”

A fellow parishioner at St. Teresa’s and another grateful recipient of their scholarship award, Brian Karr will be studying chemical engineering at VU. “The scholarship dollars will help me pursue my lifelong career and make college more affordable for me.” Giving back is a significant part of Brian’s faith, and he is very engaged in community outreach activities through St. Teresa’s. He is confident that his education will allow him to continue such work throughout his life.

Matthew Dalessandro is a student studying meteorology at Valparaiso University and a member of St. Teresa of Avila. From participating on mission trips to the deep friendships he has formed within St. Teresa’s, Matthew is an active member of his parish community. As another scholarship recipient, Matthew views his award as a tangible expression of support from his parish community. “It shows the caring nature of the community and how much they appreciate us as students.”

Holly Taylor is also a recipient of a St. Teresa of Avila scholarship award. She is studying civil engineering at VU and looks forward to paying the generosity forward. “Whatever I do after college with my degree, it will be helping other people in need.”

For each of these scholarship recipients, the award is not only about the financial boon, but also about their faith community believing in them and investing in their futures. Futures that will empower them to give back.

The St. Teresa of Avila Scholarship Fund is one of twenty-three different scholarship funds among the 41 funds of the Catholic Foundation. For more information about the Catholic Foundation and its various funds, please visit www.catholicfuture.org, like them on Facebook, or call the office at (219) 769-9292 extension 268.

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