17, No. 16 May 3, 2001 Issue
Indian student group establishes scholarship
By Amy Geiszler-Jones
What started as an idea nearly a decade ago has turned into reality in a few months.
The Indian Student Association has become one of the first student groups to establish an endowed scholarship fund. To become endowed, a scholarship fund must reach the $10,000 level, which allows scholarships to be paid out indefinitely with the funds earnings.
The groups fund-raising effort has been greatly bolstered by two WSU faculty members originally from India who helped spearhead the effort for ISA and the generosity of the local Indian community.
"People have really been opening their hearts," says physics professor and ISA faculty adviser Pawan Kahol, who called the support of the community "humbling." The support, he says, also shows how "enmeshed" WSU is with the greater Wichita community and various ethnic communities in the city.
ISA set a goal of raising $20,000 and since late November it has raised nearly $12,000.
It was in the early 1990s when Prem Bajaj, associate professor of mathematics and statistics, and then-ISA treasurer Supriya Madan, suggested that ISA start a scholarship fund. Bajaj served as ISAs faculty adviser from 1985-87, when the group first formed.
Kahol liked the idea, but they decided to wait until "the proper time" to embark on the ambitious effort, Kahol says. In the late 1990s the Indian community was conducting a fund-raiser to build a Hindu temple.
"I felt very strongly for students who would come to me and tell me stories about how they have absolutely no money and want to quit the university," says Kahol. "That gave us the motive. It gave me the incentive."
"The proper time" came during the Thanksgiving break, when Kahol and Yoganand Ghati, ISAs president at the time, mailed more than 300 letters to the local community. Bajaj also mailed letters and made many phone calls, and e-mails were sent to Indian alumni of WSU. Donations have ranged from $15 to $1,000.
To help in the effort, last year ISA raised its admission price to two cultural events it hosts by $2. The increase was put toward the fund. Kahol estimates the events, held in the fall and spring, have generated more than $3,000 toward the fund. Because most of WSUs Indian students attend the events, this gives them a way to support the scholarship fund, too.
When Kahol first came to WSU in 1988, he remembers there were about two dozen Indian students. "At that time I knew all their names," he recalls. WSU now has more than 260 Indian students, with more than 240 enrolled in graduate studies. Most, if not all, belong to ISA.
The scholarship fund will be administered by the WSU Foundation and the Graduate School. The scholarship, expected to be awarded this fall, will be available to any WSU student expressing a financial need; preference, however, will be given to ISA members.
|Inside WSU is published by the Office of University Communications for Wichita State University faculty, staff and friends on biweekly Thursdays during the fall and spring semesters. Items to be considered for publication should be sent to campus box 62 or Amy.Geiszler-Jones@wichita.edu 10 days before publication.|