The burden of loans and bills is well known by Sonoma State University students.
When participants ran in the the Heart of SSU 5K Saturday, their proceeds went toward the Heart of SSU scholarship, which was created to help alleviate this burden.
As the race’s 75 participants checked in for the event around 8 a.m., a DJ blasted eye-opening music. The family-friendly event saw participation from many alumni, their friends and family, several children and even a few dogs.
The race started across from the tennis courts near Beaujolais Village. It proceededacross campus, down Snyder Lane and Rohnert Park Expressway, and finally turned back into the Green Music Center.
The festivities ended with a beer garden for all the participants.
The Heart of SSU scholarship funds full tuition for a continuing Sonoma State student, who would have otherwise not been able to pay for college. The first recipient of the scholarship will be chosen for the fall 2018 semester.
In order to be considered for the scholarship, students must apply through the university scholarship program.
The application process opens up in October, and the deadline is Feb. 1, 2018, according to Laurie Ogg, the director of annual giving and alumni relations.
Ogg went through the qualifications a candidate needs to obtain scholarship.
A qualified candidate should be someone who is in financial need, has completed at least 24 units at Sonoma State, and currently maintains a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
“The ideal candidate would also embody the Sonoma spirit and demonstrate involvement in the community and campus,” Ogg said.
The scholarship endowment was created in 2015 by the Sonoma State Alumni Association. The scholarship’s goal is for former students to help fund the next generation of students and their path to education.
According to Ogg, most of the scholarship’s funds come through donors, and the majority of these donors are alumni.
Alumnus Andy Shepherd, who graduated in 2011, said he chose to run the 5K because he loves running and wanted to support the alumni association.
To Shepherd, the heart of Sonoma State is “all about inclusivity, opportunity, and innovation.”
Alumni Association President Joe Huang reiterated that the Heart of SSU scholarship and 5K were very important to this association.
“We believe now that the cost of education is the largest barrier for students, and we wanted to find a way to lessen that burden,” Huang said. “The idea of the scholarship is it will pay a year’s tuition to a student who shows community and academic leadership.”
Huang said he only paid $1,100 in tuition per semester during his first year at college.
That number is now closer to $4,000, according to the Financial Aid Office.
Ogg, also gave insightinto where the Heart of SSU scholarship name originated and how it embodies the scholarship’s goal.
“That ‘heart of SSU’ statement embodies students, alumni, staff and faculty. It was important that we did that,” Ogg said. “The SSU Alumni Association and the board members all had such positive and outstanding experiences at Sonoma State and discovered themselves here. The name is to show that alumni found their heart here, and Sonoma is their heart, and because of that they really want to support current students.”