YPSILANTI – Five exceptional transfer students with deep interest and experience in helping people locally and internationally have enrolled in The Honors College at Eastern Michigan University, with the support of a gift from Emeritus Board of Regents Chairman Thomas Sidlik and his wife, Rebecca Boylan.
Sidlik served an eight-year term on the Board of Regents, from 2004 to 2012, an active time on campus that included the construction of the EMU Science Complex, the centerpiece of Eastern’s STEM education efforts. He and Boylan are well known in Michigan for supporting a variety of special causes.
“We are extremely gratified and excited at supporting the success and academic paths of these five exceptional students, all of whom have a powerful focus on helping others,” Sidlik and Boylan said. “Eastern Michigan students work hard and routinely overcome significant financial challenges to get their education, which makes it doubly satisfying to extend this helping hand. Our excellent Honors College will help these students to continue to flourish academically and follow their visions of benefiting communities near and far.”
“The Honors College is delighted with the gift from Emeritus Chairman Tom Sidlik and Rebecca Boylan, both because it helped bring five outstanding transfer students into EMU and The Honors College and because, in marketing the scholarship, we met many more wonderful transfer students who could benefit from what EMU and The Honors College offer,” said Ann Eisenberg, dean of the College. “We are committed to a vision for The Honors College where our Honors students reflect the broad diversity that makes EMU so special, and transfer students are an important part of that diversity."
Profiling the five students
• Alessandra Castañeda Infante, an international student from Peru, chose to transfer to EMU from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, VA, in part because of the institution’s affordability. This scholarship helped seal her decision to come to EMU to complete her BBA degree in marketing. Since her arrival in the U.S. in 2016, Alessandra has volunteered in the Hospital Elder Life Program at a Richmond hospital, and that work with elderly patients motivates her to want to enhance awareness of the challenges of aging and the needs of aging individuals and to spur entrepreneurship that will improve the lives of elderly individuals. She has also volunteered as a translator for Spanish-speaking patients through the Mission of Mercy project. She currently maintains a GPA of 3.70.
Quoting Alessandra: “I transferred to EMU this Fall 2020 as a Marketing major to, later on, fulfill my niche for changing America's culture of youth and creating a platform to help the elderly. I could not have asked for a better transition from the one Eastern Michigan University and The Honors College have provided me, and I am happy to say that The Sidlik and Boylan scholarship has been a part of that too.
“As an international student, getting scholarships and financial aid in the U.S is difficult. That is one more reason why this scholarship means so much to me. It has helped me and family lift some of the financial burdens that come with being a college student. I will forever be appreciative of that. “
• Claire Convis is transferring to EMU from Washtenaw Community College with a GPA of 3.98. Claire grew up with parents who spent most of their free time volunteering in the community, so she has spent countless hours working with rescue animals, building homes with Habitat for Humanity, and coaching sports teams in low-income neighborhoods. In 2017-18, she spent a year in the city of Pachuca in Hidalgo, Mexico, teaching English to fifth and sixth graders. In the future, she plans to use her Spanish language and teaching skills to help teach English to speakers of other languages here in the United States.
Quoting Claire: “From August 2017-June 2018 when I went to live in Mexico for a year to teach English. I went independently, not as a part of a program, so there was a lot of adjusting to the culture, financial sacrifice, hard work and dedication involved, but the experience was worth every ounce of effort I put into it.
“I chose the major and career path of elementary education because I have always wanted to help children learn, grow, and discover their full potential. I was a teacher's assistant in high school and I found helping students in their academic journey to be very fulfilling, and I love seeing children develop their skills and realize how smart they truly are. Working with kids has always been something that I enjoy, from helping out at kids' sports events to leading at summer camps in impoverished areas, being around children inspires me and gives me even greater motivation to help them in many areas of their lives, even beyond education ...
“I am working multiple jobs in order to put myself through college, and in the workplace I have received multiple promotions and employee of the month awards at several jobs that I have held. Because I am striving to keep my grades up as well as be a great worker, I really appreciate the Sidlik and Boylan scholarship; it has been a great support to me, as has the warm welcome that I have received into the Honors college and into Eastern Michigan University as a whole. I am grateful to the founders of the Sidlik and Boylan scholarship and to EMU for helping me achieve my goals as a college student and one day, an elementary education teacher.”
• Coty Huneau, from Wayne, Michigan, transferred to EMU from Henry Ford College with a 3.93 GPA. Coty first started his college education in 2010 but had to withdraw because of personal and financial issues, but he is glad to be back in school now. Coty plans to major in international affairs and gained interest in this particular area while volunteering with earthquake recovery in Kumamoto, Japan, in 2016. While there, Coty observed the stark differences between underprivileged communities compared to major cities where opportunities and the standard of living were greater. This experience motivated Coty to return to college and study international politics. Coty would ultimately like to earn a Master’s degree in East Asian studies or international relations.
Quoting Coty: “From 2016-2018, I spent my time attending classes and traveling around Asia in the summers. The lessons I learned from traveling around Asia were life-changing. These events led me to my major in international affairs. My goal is to become an expert in Chinese foreign policy and East Asian culture. Another interest I have is poverty alleviation. Being able to use my future degree to better humanity is something I value immensely.
“The Boylan & Sidlik Transfer Scholarship I was awarded during the pandemic has greatly impacted my ability to attend college. The pandemic severely impacted my finances and many other aspects of life. I am truly grateful for the scholarship and being a member of the EMU Honors College.”
• Andrea Salinas, a first-generation college student, transferred from Washtenaw Community College with a transfer GPA of 3.95 to earn her degree in elementary education. A junior now, Andrea was inspired to become a teacher because of her own experiences as a young child struggling with dyslexia and ADHD. Teaching interpersonal communication and job skills to middle- and high-school students for Life Directions, a Detroit-based non-profit founded to combat gang violence served to reinforce her commitment to teaching young people. A veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, Andrea is now attending college as a 36-year-old single parent to two young children, ages 4 and 11.
Quoting Andrea: “To understand what the Sidlik and Boylan Scholarship means to me, I feel I should share a little about myself: I have traveled a great deal and lived in numerous states, including Oregon and the Washington D.C. area. I am currently on the path of majoring in elementary education.
“Freshly out of high school, I would have never seen myself going to college because higher education was never a focus in my household and I had previously struggled immensely in school due to a learning disability. It was after becoming a mother and seeing my children struggle that I wanted to continue my education. I want nothing more than to have the privilege to help students discover a love of learning and confidence in themselves.
“To be honest, I never expected to perform so well, especially with juggling children and my father's cancer diagnosis and care; however, my late grandfather once taught me that if I am going to do something, I should do it right, which is why I am continuously giving my education everything I have — this is my life and dream, after all. This scholarship shows me that all those hours and tears were well spent. Lastly, the Sidlik and Boylan Scholarship relieves some financial burden; it has allowed my focus to be on my children and education instead of on finding extra work with an already hectic schedule.”
• Anahi Orozco Trujillo came to the U.S. from Mexico at the age of six. Anahi is motivated to prove, as he puts it, “that immigrants are not invaders, that [they] contribute, create progress, and bring something to the table.” Anahi, who transferred to EMU from Schoolcraft Community College with a transfer GPA of 3.85, plans to major in human resource management after developing a passion for training new employees while working in retail. He is paying his way through college by working in human resources at American Axle and Manufacturing. Ultimately, Anahi would like to become a Vice President for Human Resources at a large company. During the pandemic, he has been volunteering regularly at Novi’s Feed the Need, preparing and distributing lunches for low-income students.
Quoting Anahi: “I am a DACA recipient and therefore unable to obtain Federal Financial Aid. My parents do not have a high school diploma, and are blue collar workers. Therefore, even attending community college was a financial stress. But through the hard work of my family, I was able to become the first person in my family to attend college. I am grateful to have obtained an associate degree from Schoolcraft College.
“However, the cost of going to a university is a lot more expensive and the Sidlik/Boyan Scholarship has provided financial relief, and allowed me to continue pursuing my career. In addition to the financial relief, this scholarship has been a reward for my academic hard work as well as all the sacrifices my parents have made for my academic success and future well-being. “
About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves nearly 18,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.