FLINT — The Department of History at the University of Michigan-Flint has distributed an additional $70,500 in student funding for the 2020-21 academic year, with 48 history majors and minors receiving a $1,500 scholarship.
These awards are in addition to $30,000 of existing scholarships the department distributes annually. The disbursement is made possible by the Wyatt Endowment, created by founding faculty member of the Flint College, Dr. Dorothea E. Wyatt.
Among the initiatives supported by the endowment is the Wyatt Exploration Program, an annual international study tour that brings 8-14 students on a faculty-led trip to engage with history in a global context.
When COVID-19 shuttered plans for international travel in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years, history faculty saw an opportunity to support their students during a time when many are experiencing barriers to completing their degrees.
“If we can do a little bit to help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety students are feeling about their education, we thought it would be money well spent,” department chair Thomas Henthorn said. “It’s just as much about the mental health of our students as it is helping them to pay for a class.”
History minor Jilian Lueker recently returned to work after a four-month layoff due to the coronavirus — working in retail helps to fund her education. Lueker was on the job when she learned about the additional funding.
“I basically was running around the store, telling my coworkers, ‘Guys, this is amazing. I have a scholarship I didn’t even know about.’ I was freaking out. It seriously was a blessing because I pay for my own tuition. It helped make my final semester more affordable.”
This initiative typifies the mindset of student support embraced by UM-Flint. Henthorn notes that many students hold jobs and raise families while earning their degree — it is important for leaders to take a holistic view of student’s lives in their planning.
“Just about all of the decisions that we make in our department revolves around how we can best meet our students’ needs. When you look across the College of Arts & Sciences and the university in general, supports like professional academic advising and career preparedness services show the broader culture of student-centeredness we value at UMFlint,” said Henthorn.