During the 35th session, Drake Student Senate created a scholarship for Sodexo employees and their dependents. Last year, three individuals received $2,500 through the endowed scholarship. Student Body President Ruwayda Egal said the scholarship was created by the Student Senate and other students who saw the need and the importance of Sodexo employees.
Egal said Student Senate decided to create the scholarship after realizing Sodexo workers were not entitled to the same benefits as other Drake faculty and staff members. While Drake employees’ dependents receive free tuition, Sodexo employees and their dependents do not receive free schooling because Sodexo is its own company and not associated with Drake.
“A couple of senators and [Senate executive members] found out that Sodexo workers and their dependents don’t get free schooling at Drake University, so we thought that was very odd and very different [from] how other employees are treated,” Egal said.
To remedy this, Egal said they set aside around $50,000 from Student Senate’s reserve and put it into an endowment scholarship. This money continuously grows and will always be there, according to Egal.
“I think this year it’s gonna be $2,500 again, but we’re expecting the number to grow in like 10 years to make it a $5,000 scholarship or a $10,000 scholarship,” Egal said. “We can give more to Sodexo employees.”
The recipient of the scholarship is decided by a committee of various administrators, the student body president, the vice president of student life and the equity and inclusion senator. The committee is in charge of reviewing applications.
Scholarship applicants are asked what they hope to accomplish at Drake and to include a personal statement. Egal said they purposely didn’t include any questions about an applicant’s GPA.
“We don’t want to judge anyone on [their] GPA. We just want to judge it on whether or not they need the scholarship,” Egal said.
This scholarship is entirely need-based, according to Egal. She explained that when three people applied last year, the committee awarded every applicant after examining their applications.
“We believed all of them needed it the exact same,” Egal said.
Aaron Knutson, the general manager of Sodexo at Drake, said there was a call for Sodexo staff to apply for the scholarship the last two years.
“It is wonderful the student body took this initiative and set up a scholarship,” Knutson added.
Egal also attached the application to her September 2023 email for anybody interested in applying. The application will close on Oct. 17, 2023.
Egal said the money makes a difference in helping Sodexo employees and their dependents pay for school.
“I’m always a firm believer that even 20 bucks helps someone,” Egal said. “A lot of people may not understand that concept, but $20 can pay for groceries or a meal. We don’t always understand what someone needs at that time, so even though it’s $2,500, I really do think that helps with financial need.”
Egal feels Sodexo employees and their dependents deserve the scholarship because they serve such a crucial part on Drake’s campus.
“When we look at Starbucks or Hubbell, those are some of our favorite people working there and they bring so much to the community, so I think they deserve it and so do their dependents,” Egal said. “School should be more accessible.”