Thursday, October 30, 2014

Seeing Scholars in the Steel City

by ENF Programs Coordinator Ashley Brown



Pittsburgh may be known as the city of bridges and steel, but it could also be known as a city of Elks scholars, many of whom attend the city’s numerous universities.

As this was my first opportunity to travel on behalf of the Elks National Foundation, I was incredibly excited to learn how to best serve our scholars to ensure their scholarships aided them in achieving their educational goals.

Programs Relationship Associate Anne Stretz and I recently visited the Steel City to attend the National Scholarship Providers Association’s annual conference. While we spent the days learning how to best serve and engage our scholars, we were able to spend some time connecting with our Pittsburgh scholars over dinner at a local restaurant.

I was looking forward to putting faces with names and meeting the scholars whose goals we were helping to make possible. It was an amazing opportunity to connect and learn about what they are involved in and their plans for the future.

They ranged from freshmen to seniors and came from multiple universities. Legacy scholar Danielle Richetelli and Most Valuable Student scholar Mark Jordan, who are both freshman at the University of Pittsburgh, spoke about their first few weeks at their new university. Mark was lucky enough to score a spot in the university’s newest dorm, making Danielle a jealous fellow freshman!

Lauren Drumm, a senior Most Valuable Student scholar representing Duquesne University, regaled us with stories of her recent study abroad experience in Iceland, where she hiked up mountains and swam in glacial waters. Back home in New Jersey, her mother was inspired to join the local Elks Lodge (more to follow on that story!).

Several senior scholars who were looking forward to their journeys after college also joined us.

After four years of studying computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon, Most Valuable Student scholar Ian Glasner is looking forward to a career at Google in his home state of California—that is after he makes it through his last few rounds of final exams!

Fellow Carnegie Mellon senior and Emergency Educational Grant recipient Anna Vande Velde enjoys her time studying psychology, accomplishing a high GPA in between working her four part-time jobs. With her senior year in progress, Anna is getting ready to apply to graduate school. She ultimately plans to help people through a doctorate in clinical psychology.

While they attend different colleges, with varying majors, interests, and career aspirations, they all had one thing in common—the support of their Elks family.

Visiting Pittsburgh was an incredible opportunity to see the profound impact ENF scholarships have on the lives of our scholars. With knowledge gained and fond memories of time with my Elks family, I am excited to continue helping Elks build stronger communities, one scholar at a time.

In 2014-15, the Elks National Foundation appropriated $4.06 million to fund the ENF scholarship program, which provides college scholarships, ensuring a bright future for our nation’s youth. Today’s Elks scholars can be tomorrow’s Elks. Be sure to include Elks scholars from your Lodge in Lodge events and service projects. For more information about our scholarship programs, and for ways Lodges can get involved with Elks scholars, visit www.elks.org/enf/scholars.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Finding the Balance

By 2014 Legacy Awards Recipient and Elks Scholar Advisory Board Member Anji Radakrishnan

Anji Radakrishnan, 2014 Legacy scholar and freshmen representative on the Elks Scholar Advisory Board, is giving us a glimpse into life as a college freshmen. Join her each month as she blogs about her exciting new challenges and experiences at Penn State.


It’s a common notion among college students that we can only pick two of the following three things: academics, extracurriculars, and social life. Here at Penn State, like people at every other university, some pick only extracurriculars and social life, trying to enjoy themselves as much as possible in the four years that we have as undergraduates. On the other hand, some pick only academics and extracurriculars, trying to build a solid resume that will bring them future success. Finally, there are some brave souls who dare to pick all three.

Since coming to college, I’ve had to make some crucial decisions. The amount of in-class hours is significantly less from high school to college. However, the amount of out-of-class studying required is significantly higher.  All of the time in between these two things, however, is up to each individual to delegate to each activity, whether extracurricular or social.

My true passion is dance, and I have joined three dance establishments: Ghaam, the garba-raas team, salsa, and belly dancing. This makes for five practices a week, which keeps me busy and gives me a good outlet from studying. Additionally, I joined the South Asian Student Association in order to meet other Indian people and keep in touch with my culture. With a student base of 40,000 people here at Penn State, meeting people is not at all difficult. Some of my best nights here were spent eating, dancing, and just talking with my floor mates into the early hours of the night (of course, we all regretted this when we were unable to wake up for our 8 a.m. Chem class the next morning).

All the while, as an Elks scholar, I am making a difference in my community and working to fulfill my duties as the freshman representative of the Elks Scholar Advisory Board. I hope all my fellow Elks scholars are enjoying their time in college, finding that balance between academics, extracurriculars, and social life, and staying true to themselves and their roots. So, fellow Elks scholars, how do you find time to balance your academic and social live at school? Post in the comments below to let me know. Until next month!

Anjithaa Radakrishnan
Elks Scholar Advisory Board Freshman Representative
Pennsylvania State University

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Elks Community Builder


An Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant has helped the Elks find the right balance. Using its Beacon Grant, Blue Springs, Mo., Lodge No. 2509 partnered with a local nursing home to provide fall prevention classes for residents, helping them prevent injuries. For each therapy session, Elks set up the classroom, served as spotters, and assisted the instructor with client evaluations.

Thanks to this beneficial program, residents’ balance has improved, helping them feel safer and steadier in their homes.

“I tested much better at the end of the program than at the initial evaluation,” says one client.

Through Beacon Grants, the Elks National Foundation gives Lodges the opportunity to develop an ongoing, charitable, Elks-driven community project. These $2,000 grants are available to all Lodges. To find out more about Beacon Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Meet the Class of 2014 Elks Scholars

Haley Strouf
2014 Most Valuable Student Scholar

Massachusetts Institute of Technology—Bioengineering Major

Sponsored by Rice Lake, Wis., Lodge No. 1441


“I pride myself on my identity as an active member of my school and community,” says Haley Strouf.

Her numerous involvements from athletics to volunteering allow Haley to develop her identity as a dedicated and passionate individual, an identity she will continue to cultivate in the years ahead.

In high school, Haley honed her leadership skills as the captain of her swimming, gymnastics and track teams, while also serving as vice-president for her senior class and the National Honor Society. Amid her leadership roles, Haley also cultivated a love of helping others, by volunteering as a math tutor and mentoring elementary children.

As she looks forward to her future, Haley plans to continue to stay involved and assist others. After graduating and pursuing graduate school, Haley hopes to become a bio-engineer and design prosthesis, helping those restricted through amputation achieve fuller lives.

Her new identity as an Elks scholar will ensure she achieves her goals with the help of her Elks family.

“Being an Elks scholar is both exciting and meaningful,” says Haley. “My identity as an Elks scholar is a constant reminder of the numerous ways I can benefit others.”

A 501(c)(3) public charity, the Elks National Foundation helps Elks build stronger communities through programs that support youth, serve veterans, and meet needs in areas where Elks live and work. This year, the ENF allocated $2.44 million to fund the Most Valuable Student scholarship program, which includes 500 four-year Most Valuable Student Scholarships. For more information about the Most Valuable Student scholarship program, including eligibility and deadlines, visit www.elks.org/enf/scholars.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Meet the Class of 2014 Elks Scholars

Harrison Williams

2014 Lester and Marion Bacon Most Valuable Student Scholar 

Georgia Institute of Technology—Engineering Major

Sponsored by Springfield, Ill., Lodge No. 158


To excel in athletics, academics and community service, one must be dedicated. At a young age, Harrison Williams learned dedication and discipline through wrestling and translated these values into helping others.

Following in his family’s footsteps, Harrison started wrestling in third grade. Through the encouragement of his coaches, Harrison became a dedicated athlete and eventually became team captain, lettered all four years, and won numerous honors at the state level.

Yet his accomplishments go far beyond the wrestling mat. The discipline, ambition and dedication he learned turned into a commitment to academic excellence and serving his community.

“The impact wrestling had is motivation toward community service,” says Harrison. “Once I realized how many people had helped me, I decided to pass my blessings to the community.”

His service included cleaning up natural disasters, building homes for low-income neighbors, and mentoring children at his church and at-risk youth.

His dedication to excellence and community ensures Harrison is in good company with his Elks family.

“It is an honor to be an Elks scholar,” says Harrison. “It means that I represent the ideals the Elks want to support. I represent what it means to give to the community.”

For 2014-15, the Elks National Foundation allocated $2.44 million to fund the Most Valuable Student scholarship program, which includes 500 four-year Most Valuable Student Scholarships. For more information about the Most Valuable Student scholarship program, including eligibility and deadlines, visit www.elks.org/enf/scholars.