Two ASU Scholarships Aim to Promote LDS Graduation Rates

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ first settlers in the Valley of the Sun arrived in 1877 in the area that would become Mesa. What began as a few families of settlers has grown to a population of nearly half a million in Arizona today.

Arizona State University is dedicated to creating a similarly vibrant and thriving LDS population on its four campuses. The Tempe and Polytechnic campuses are home to LDS Institutes that serve nearly 2,000 students daily and provide them a place to pursue religious studies while taking advantage of social opportunities amid bustling campus life.

Moreover, through the support of engaged LDS investors, the university has established two scholarship programs, the Beus Family New American University Scholarship—generously funded by Leo and Annette Beus—and the Pioneer Heritage Scholarship—a pooled community scholarship fund. Though the two programs are distinct, they are similar in design and intention.

They both seek to financially assist and retain incoming freshman or transfer community college students who demonstrate leadership, academic achievement, and deep involvement in the LDS community. Nearly thirty LDS students receive one of the scholarships each year. These scholarships can be deferred, which is helpful for many LDS students who go on missions before or during college.

These scholarship programs are also designed to promote academic achievement in a group of students that demonstrate leadership and who are active in their church and communities, while also serving to balance their religious pursuits with rigorous academic study.

Roc Arnett, a member of the Pioneer Heritage scholarship committee, hopes it will also encourage gifted LDS students to stay in Arizona.

“It is a proven fact that when our high school graduates attend ASU, a world-class institution, and stay in our community, they provide a great deal of value to our families and our local economy,” says Arnett. “I am honored to be involved in this important scholarship program at ASU.”

Todd Hansen, also a Pioneer Heritage scholarship committee member, anticipates these scholarships will help LDS students to find a home and to thrive at ASU. “The Pioneer Heritage Scholarship is a clear example of ASU's commitment to attracting top notch students whose lives and academic performance reflect the excellence fostered at ASU,” Hansen says.

Allison Michael, an incoming freshman of Barrett, The Honors College and Beus Family New American University Scholarship recipient, will study biomedical engineering and is already thinking how her studies can make a difference in people’s lives.

“Biomedical engineering is such a vast field,” Allison said. “I love that I can combine creativity with math and science in order to make someone’s life better.”

Receiving the Beus Family scholarship has not only motivated her to make graduation from ASU a priority, but it has opened her up to the idea that she can take her education beyond what she might have hoped.

“I know that I will discover things about myself that I never knew before,” Allison says, “I had never really seriously considered getting my PhD. I now see a PhD as an attainable goal.”

Pioneer Heritage Scholar Sarah Taylor was inspired by her experiences running a business. An accounting major in W.P. Carey School of Business, she was set on pursing a life in theatre and music before her mother suggested she start her own business. At fourteen-years-old, she and a partner started Music Forte, a summer music camp for young children. In handling the administrative and budgetary side of the camp, she discovered yet another passion—a love of business.

“My plan is to graduate with a bachelor’s degree after six semesters and possibly go on to graduate school,” Sarah says. “Through my education, I’ll gain the skills that will make me valuable to both businesses and people in Arizona.”

For some students, these scholarships are the very reason they can continue to pursue higher education, or even begin the process in the first place. Megan Dieu, a Beus Scholar and chemical engineering major, credits this scholarship as a big reason she is at ASU.

“I have always dreamed of earning a higher education,” Megan says. “As soon as I was accepted at Barrett, The Honors College, I knew two things—one, ASU was where I needed to be and, two, I needed money.”

For Megan, this scholarship relieves a financial burden for her and for her family. “I come from a modest family. Money can be tight for us,” Megan said. “Being a recipient of this scholarship is a huge blessing in my life.”

With these scholarship programs in place, ASU continues to build on its reputation as a destination for LDS students to receive a quality education, while continuing their spiritual growth. ASU not only provides robust opportunities for LDS students to thrive academically, but also a place for spiritual and personal development.