Allison Epstein can imagine a world where she didn’t receive a scholarship to attend the University of Michigan.
“I have an older sister who just graduated from college without the kind of financial aid I received so I can see firsthand what it would have been like for me to go to college without a scholarship,” she says.
“I come from a middle-class family,” she continues, “and it’s tough to afford college for multiple kids. Taking on that kind of debt would have restricted my opportunities. The loans I would have had to take out would always be on my mind.”
But Epstein received a Sidney J. and Irene Shipman Scholarship, an award that enabled her to keep her attention trained on her three majors: in English, creative writing, and French.
“I can just focus on what I’m learning,” she says, adding, “I got to study abroad, which was such a transformative experience for me. While I was in Northern Ireland I started to see how I could be a writer, which is what I’ve always wanted to be, and not just a creative writing student.”
Receiving the scholarship also made Epstein want to give back. She’s a member of the planning committee for Appreciate + Reciprocate, an organization of LSA scholarship recipients who’ve joined forces to give back. Together, they raise money for the LSA Emergency Scholarship Fund, which helps current students facing unexpected financial crises that jeopardize their ability to stay in school.
“One of the reasons I’ve been so active in scholarship fundraising for other Michigan students is because it has meant so much for me to be here. I want to pay it forward. I want to give some of what I’ve gotten back.” She smiles. “Even the smallest donations make a difference.
“There’s a road on the other side of Ann Arbor called Shipman Court. I like to run by it because, I don’t know, it makes me feel strong. It makes me think about the Shipmans, who believed enough in students like me that they left the money that made it possible for me to be here. I think about the people who chose me to receive the scholarship. It motivates me. I want to do them proud, and make the most of what they gave me. I don’t know a good enough way to say thank you.”
Read more about the difference LSA gifts can make: