Northwestern Quest Scholars Network launches fundraising campaign to aid low-income students during Wildcat Welcome


Daily file photo by Susan Du

Students participate in March Through The Arch during Wildcat Welcome. The Northwestern Quest Scholars Network launched a fundraising campaign to fund scholarships to help low-income students in the class of 2019 afford additional expenses during the orientation period.

Mariana Alfaro, Assistant Campus Editor

Northwestern Quest Scholars Network launched a campaign this week to fund scholarships that would help low-income students afford additional expenses during Wildcat Welcome this fall.

As of Wednesday evening, the campaign has received $1,030 out of its $5,000 goal, according to its fundraising page on Catalyzer, a new Northwestern-sponsored fundraising site.

The funds, NUQSN president Amanda Walsh said, will be used to give students of low-income backgrounds gift cards so that they will be able to participate in activities such as Night at Target and dinners with their Peer Adviser groups.

“I didn’t expect to have many expenses during Wildcat Welcome,” said Jason Garcia, NUQSN’s co-social chair. “I figured we’d be doing a lot of programming … and that they’d be providing for these things, so when we would go out to dinner occasionally or do other things that required money out of my pocket, I wasn’t prepared for that.”

This is the first year NUQSN will offer these scholarships to incoming students during Wildcat Welcome. Garcia, a Weinberg sophomore, said that the goal is to give a $50 Visa gift card to each incoming Quest Scholar.

“My goal is to make (Wildcat Welcome) accessible to every single student,” said Walsh, a Communication junior. “Unfortunately that’s not really possible, so we’re hoping … we will be able to give these funds to all of the Quest Scholars.”

She added that if the campaign exceeds its $5,000 goal, they will be able to give these “welcome packages” to “more than just Quest students.”

Walsh has been working on the project with Kourtney Cockrell, the director of Student Enrichment Services. The project came about after students over the last few years said they found it difficult to participate in activities outside the regular Wildcat Welcome programming that amounted to extra expenses, as well as being unable to afford residence hall essentials, Walsh said.

Walsh said there’s a misperception on campus that every student is able to afford to go out to dinner with their PA groups and buy towels, pillows or room decorations. The funding, she said, will make it easier for low-income students to make the transition to campus without the awkwardness or the stress of not moving in with the same objects or goods that their peers have.

“We’re looking to change that without forcing students to have to go to a faculty member or staff member saying, ‘Hey, I’m low-income and I need help with this,’” she said. “We’re trying to make it a process for students to feel comfortable saying that they’re low-income, but also if they’re not comfortable with that, that’s still totally OK.”

Matthew Herndon, Associated Student Government’s vice president for accessibility and inclusion, said he agreed with Quest Scholars’ goals and added that campus overall should make NU more accessible for low-income students throughout the year.

“I think it will help provide for some basic supplies that students need to get, maybe allow them to do a couple things during (Wildcat Welcome) with other students that they wouldn’t normally have the money for,” said Herndon, a SESP sophomore. “I think it’s a great fund for (Wildcat Welcome) specifically, but overall there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Marissa Page contributed reporting.

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