First Cohort of Local Education for Service Scholars Arrive at BVU

Ten Education for Service scholars hit the ground running upon their August arrival on campus as freshmen. The group is pioneering a new, large-scale scholarship program at Buena Vista University.

Before classes began, the EFS students spent a week preparing for their service-oriented role in the EFS program. One of their first projects, named the First Steps Challenge, was visiting local organizations working to make a positive impact in Buena Vista County including Faith, Hope & Charity and Upper Des Moines Opportunity Inc. The students listened, observed, and asked questions in order to identify possible ways in which they could add value to the organizations. Together with a student partner, the group returned to campus to brainstorm and present actionable journeys toward service solutions guided by Dr. Andrea Frantz, professor of digital media; Dr. Swasti Bhattacharyya, professor of philosophy and religion; and Elizabeth Multerer, education for service coordinator.

Cody Holtgrewe, a biomedical science major from Newell says, “I’m looking forward to continuing to get to know the community and becoming more involved as I get an education.” Heidi Coronel, a Storm Lake native, is also a biomedical science major and feels as if she’s already beginning to accomplish great things at BVU. “Living on campus and being able to afford my college education is amazing. I am happy and very proud of myself,” she says.

The EFS Buena Vista County residents were selected as recipients of BVU’s inaugural EFS scholarship program in March. The program awards four-year scholarships, all totaling in excess of the cost of tuition, each year to eligible students. In return, the students serve as Iowa College AmeriCorps volunteers in Buena Vista County communities throughout their four years at BVU. Holtgrewe added, “I was shocked to receive the scholarship, but it means a lot because I’m the first person in my family to go to college. I’m hoping to make a name for myself, prove my potential, and see all that I can achieve.”

"I’m so grateful for this experience, and I’m excited to get to know other students and my professors."

Rocio Flores-Gonzalez

As part of the Iowa College AmeriCorps volunteer program, the cohort of students will take part in a four-year service plan that includes completing up to five hours of purposeful service activities per week, going on AWOL (Alternative Week of Off-site Learning) trips and other service-oriented retreats, participating in success coaching, implementing community-based research on and off campus, and more.

The program is designed to equip the students with exemplary personal, leadership, and professional skills. Rocio Flores-Gonzalez from Rembrandt says, “I’m so grateful for this experience, and I’m excited to get to know other students and my professors. My brother is going to college at the same time as I am, so this has helped take the burden of price off of my parents. I hope to show others how great it can be to live close to home and help the community through BVU.”

In its first year, more than 30 area high school students applied for the Education for Service Scholars program. To be eligible for consideration, students must be first generation college students, earn a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA while completing a college prep curriculum, and be Federal Pell Grant and Iowa Tuition Grant (state) eligible.