EWU children’s studies major Alizabeth Ashton is usually busy with her job as a campus community advisor and with her studies. But when she heard about the EWU Alumni Association’s Neighborfest Scholarship contest, she was not going to miss it.
Ashton, a former Running Start student who is now a senior at Eastern, won the $1,000 Scholarship drawing, which was held at the end of September.
Neighborfest is EWU’s largest community networking event. Each year this event hosts more than 150 different EWU and community groups who share information about their organizations and provide generous sponsorships. It is one of many fall events at Eastern that rely on sponsors to underwrite costs and provide prizes, like the scholarship. In addition to the Alumni Association’s generous scholarship donation, West Plains Roasters, Airway Heights Parks and Recreation, Vision Haus Optometry, League of Women Voters and Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition all kicked in swag for prize drawings.
Two weeks later, for homecoming week, EWU alumnus and longtime benefactor Mark Nysether sponsored the Nate Jackson comedy performance. The show, which was held inside the PUB in the very room that was named to recognize his generosity, the Nysether Community Room, attracted nearly 450 students, faculty and staff. Thanks to Nysether’s generous gift, the event was free to all students.
Ashton’s Alumni Association’s Neighborfest Scholarship was funded through the EWU License Plate Program, where members of the community can purchase an Eastern license plate and show their eagle pride while supporting students.
Ashton, from Rochester, Washington, won the scholarship by entering a contest that required students to visit a minimum of nine Neighborfest participating organizations and having those groups put a stamp in the students’ “Neighborfest Passport.”
“I thought that was a really smart idea because, even though I am a returning student, I still found so many great resources that I didn’t know anything about until Neighborfest,” Ashton says.
Ashton said winning the scholarship has helped her to defray expenses related to her education here at Eastern. “This scholarship allows me to continue my education debt free, and hopefully graduate with no student debt.”
When she graduates in the spring, Ashton says she plans to enroll in a community college in her hometown, then come back to Eastern to get a Master of Arts in Children’s Studies. Her dream is to become a child life specialist and work in a children’s hospital.
Ashton would like to thank the EWU Alumni Association, some of whom she has the pleasure of meeting at Neighborfest. “I knew I needed to stop by and say hi to them,” says Ashton.
The feelings were mutual. Kelsey Hatch-Brecek, director of Alumni Relations, adds that Ashton “has this certain persona about her that is memorable and her spunky attitude, Eagle spirit and student leadership cannot be matched.”