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Three students share how scholarships support them in their pursuit to make the world better than how they found it

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Hayley Maqui next to a bible study sign.
June 24, 2024
By Britt Board
University Relations

During the 2023-2024 academic year, 2,345 students received PLU-funded aid, with the average PLU student receiving $37,036 in scholarships.

Through scholarship support, donors are part of a network of care that supports students in pursuing their educational goals, unlocking their full potential, and becoming leaders in their communities. An investment in PLU scholarships is an investment in students who will be empowered to thrive in a well-rounded education that extends beyond the classroom.

We asked three students what scholarship support means to them and how they plan to spark a brighter future by serving and leading with care – both at PLU and beyond.

Rhiannon Leach ’25, Elementary Education

I want to be a safe space for students to feel comfortable talking about anything.

Rhiannon Leach ’25 is an Elementary Education major who was considered the “quiet kid” in school.

I had a lot of doubts about my ability to pursue such a powerful career. This year, my professors have not only taught me that MY voice matters, but that EVERY student’s voice matters.”

Leach understands that it takes a village to support students and sees parallels between preparing to be an educator and the support she receives from scholarships. As she shares, the PLU community’s commitment to students like her “truly inspires me to work harder to achieve my goals. I plan to make the most out of my scholarships by giving back to my community.”

Education major Rhiannon Leach ’25 poses for a portrait for Automatic Admission communications materials in Hauge,

Hayley Maqui ’24, Biology

In addition to graduating this spring, Hayley Maqui ’24 just completed 300+ hours of clinical healthcare experience, including shifts in the ICU (intensive care unit), postpartum wing, and medical-surgical unit through the COPE Health Scholars program.

Hayley Maqui next to a bible study sign.
Hayley working at a patient's bedside.
Maqui practices patient care for the COPE Health Scholars program.

Each floor [of the hospital] had unique aspects, and I learned a lot from every area. Completing the program was meaningful, because I spent so much time and effort on it and enjoyed every second,” says Maqui.

The COPE program gives high school and college students the opportunity to work closely with health professionals in a real-world hospital setting.

Maqui plans to turn these experiences into a career as a pediatrician. “I love working with children,” she says. “I always told myself that I wanted to make the doctor’s office a fun zone. I want to build trust with patients and their families, ensuring that every visit is fear-free.

Maqui’s experiences in COPE and extracurricular activities were made possible partly because of her scholarships.

No words can express how grateful I am to receive this scholarship. I hope that one day I can repay the favor to another hard-working student. Thank you to the donors who are supporting me; it makes me feel that all my hard work did pay off.

Austyn Blair ’25, English Lit and Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Religion, Gender and Sexuality Studies

“My goals are to teach English and/or work in genocide prevention and education. I want to educate others as I educate myself.” Austyn Blair ’25 has a full schedule. He is majoring in English Literature and minoring in Holocaust and Genocide Studies; Religion; and Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Austin Blair's portrait
Austin Blair speaking at commencement.
In 2023, Blair was nominated as the Student Speaker for convocation, and his speech centered on the importance of a holistic educational experience. (PLU / Sy Bean)

With such rigorous academic goals, Blair is proud of his ability to balance his studies, social life, and extracurricular activities.

While he’s enthusiastic about his classes, Blair notes, “You are in college to get an education, and only part of that is in the classroom.” In 2023, Blair was nominated as the Student Speaker for convocation, and his speech centered on the importance of a holistic educational experience.

Blair’s rich educational experiences at PLU are supported by scholarships. Reflecting on the importance of his scholarships, Blair says, “ I feel very seen and honored, and it truly reiterates to me what a special place PLU is. I am so glad that I chose to come here, and I appreciate [donors] making that easier for me by relieving some financial stress.”

Lutes like Leach, Maqui, and Blair are shaping a better future right now. They serve and lead with care for others, their communities, and the earth.

If you’ve contributed to scholarships, thank you! Your generosity is part of a collective effort to make a difference.