Founders Day Scholarship Awards New Beginnings

Mohamed was blinded by bandits in his hometown. Shirlee escaped a strict FLDS community.

Mohamed Dirshe and Shirlee Draper are the most recent recipients of the Founders Day Scholarship, $8,000 awarded to a current undergraduate who has overcome challenging circumstances. The application for this year’s award was due Monday. The winner will be announced by December and will receive the award in February.

Cassie Taylor Timpson, program coordinator at the Alumni Association, said she knows finding sufficient financial aid can be difficult for students who have gone through hardships.

“They’ve overcome something really big to get their education,” Timpson said. “It shows that their education is important to them, and they’re willing to overcome those things to be [able] to do that.”

The Founders Day Scholarship tries to bridge this gap. The award is part of the Founders Day Celebration — an annual event celebrating the U’s founding on Feb. 28, 1850. This year’s event is a dinner at the Little America Hotel in downtown SLC. Tickets will cost $125.

Only one applicant receives the Founders Day scholarship, but, as of 2012, 15 additional $5,000 Alumni Association Achievement scholarships are also awarded.

The scholarship is primarily funded by the Alumni Association’s license plate program — an annual contribution of $35 in exchange for custom U plates. It is also funded by private donations, alumni memberships and the Homecoming 5K race and golf tournament.

The Alumni Association has other need- and merit-based scholarships available for current undergraduate, graduate and nontraditional students, as well as some incoming student scholarships. Applications will be available starting Dec. 1 and can be found at the Alumni Association’s webpage under the scholarships tab. They are due in February.

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@SeymourSkimmer