When it comes to making a difference for students, the sky is the limit. Read five unique gifts to UNI and the stories behind them.
1. “Paper Border” finds home at UNI Gallery of Art
Paul Valadez (right) donated his Paper Border, a record of each day of his life for one year, to the University of Northern Iowa
Paul Valadez had a goal: record each day of his life for one year in visual form. The result is Paper Border, which he donated to the University of Northern Iowa Permanent Art Collection.
Valadez, a graduate of the University of North Carolina, has never visited the UNI campus, but he met UNI alumnus Chris Leonard, ‘85, while Chris was teaching art at South Texas College in McAllen, Texas. They became close friends. Valadez says, “Chris often talked about how wonderful his university experience was. He is truly a gifted artist, and he planted a seed in my head. One day I checked out UNI on the web. I liked what I saw, and it seems Chris was not exaggerating after all.”
Valadez says, “Paper Border is a direct artistic response to the South Texas border I experience on a daily basis and consists of collage elements and acrylic paint on paper. It is a visual diary of sorts. Every day for a year, I painted at the end of the day: a palm tree for an average day, a rat for a bad day or a flower for a good day. The days have been mixed up and are only a record of days not a chronology of days.”
“Mr. Valadez’s art is energetic, ambitious and replete with its own life experience, qualities essential in the planning and curating of Collection exhibitions at the UNI Gallery of Art,” says Darrell Taylor, overseer of the UNI Permanent Art Collection. “We are proud to give Paper Border a Midwest home and to feature it in future programming.”
2. The best retirement gift ever
Talking with Pam (Larsen) Wessely ’73 about her years as a teacher, you feel her passion. You glimpse the sparkle in her eyes when she says, “I retired from the best job in the world, teaching children with special needs.”
It all started in junior high when Pam volunteered at a school for the blind and at a day camp. Her passion grew from those experiences, which led her to the University of Northern Iowa. For Pam, it wasn’t about earning a degree; it was about making children smile and changing how society views the needs of children with Autism, Downs Syndrome or who are wheelchair bound.
Pam met her husband, Kent ’78, when she was a senior at UNI. A major supporter of Pam’s passion, Kent is often found working alongside his wife. When Pam retired in 2013, Kent surprised her with the perfect retirement gift, a scholarship to UNI in her name.
Pam says, “UNI prepared me for this challenging and rewarding career. I can’t think of a better way to give back than to establish an endowed scholarship so future teachers can continue this important work.”
3. Alumnus encourages study abroad
As a student at the University of Northern Iowa, Scott Horton ’97, studied in Austria twice and served as a student leader in international programs. Scott recently moved back to the United States from Switzerland where he served as the CFO over Europe, Middle East and Africa for Honeywell. His personal experiences of studying and living abroad have taught him how important it is for business students to connect globally.
Scott and his wife, Angie, hope UNI accounting students will gain these vital connections through their annually funded scholarship, the Scott and Angie Horton Accounting Study Abroad Scholarship. The scholarship is open to accounting majors who are of at least junior status and have or will participate in a study abroad experience. Preference will be given for a student with a second major or minor in a foreign language or a minor or certificate in international business.
4. Scholarship gives veterans a fresh start
"As a non-traditional student, I found many challenges unique to my situation that the traditional student does not typically face,” says Mike Dunlop. “I am a military veteran of 23 years and am married with four children. I feel fortunate that UNI has developed a veterans affairs office to assist us with transition to civilian life.
“Several times over the past three years while still serving and attending UNI, I have had to miss class due to military requirements. Each time all of my professors were more than willing to work with me to ensure that I did not fall behind.
“I am fortunate to receive the Rue Family Scholarship. During the scholarship award ceremony, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Rue and his son Dave. I found that my situation was similar to that of Mr. Rue when he attended college after serving in the military and starting a family prior to college. It was enjoyable and insightful to hear not only how someone else handled college in these circumstances, but also how those experiences proved beneficial after graduation and entering the job market. I look forward to applying that advice to the remainder of school and entering the civilian workforce.
“The Rue Family Scholarship means a lot to me and to my family. It is difficult to provide for my family with only one income. The scholarship goes a long way to make ends meet in paying for tuition and expenses, so that we are able to use our other resources for family needs."
5. Scholarship Incentive Program benefits students immediately
New this year is the Scholarship Incentive Program. When you establish a newly endowed scholarship or add to an existing one, your impact will increase when the university adds additional support. Normally, when you pledge your support over a period of years, your payout would not begin until a year after the pledge is fulfilled. With the Scholarship Incentive Program, your scholarship benefits students immediately.
To learn more about this unique scholarship program, view this flier or contact the UNI Foundation at 319-273-6078 or 800-782-9522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.