Anna Claypool received a call from Montana State University Billings’ financial aid office, asking if she could come to a meeting at the chancellor’s office at 10 a.m. sharp on Thursday.
The office didn’t give her any other information, other than one hint.
“They said it would be a pleasant surprise,” said Claypool, a sophomore from Miles City studying psychology.
And a pleasant surprise it was, as Claypool was one of four MSUB students who unexpectedly received $1,000 Circle of Success scholarships from the Helena-based Student Assistance Foundation.
The foundation, a nonprofit that helps Montana college students pay for and pursue post-secondary education, will award 75 such scholarships across the state this year and will have given out $542,000 since its inception in 2005.
Also receiving the scholarships at MSUB on Thursday were Carlan Campbell, Sally Winand and Kimber Krausz.
MSUB Chancellor Rolf Groseth and Kelly Cresswell, vice president of SAF activities, presented the scholarships during a short ceremony on campus in front of about a dozen MSUB staff and foundation representatives. Cresswell said the scholarships go to current college students in Montana who have completed or will complete their freshman year and plan to continue the following year.
“We want students to have the financial resources not only to get into college, but to continue and stay in college,” said Cresswell.
That’s exactly what Claypool, who hopes to earn her doctorate in psychology, plans to do with it.
“I’m very grateful, personally,” she said. “I’m planning to continue my education for a long time, so this means a lot.”
Krausz, a freshman also from Miles City who is studying elementary education, said the scholarship came as bit of a surprise — she and the other students had applied for it on their own but hadn’t heard ahead of time if they’d receive it — but is more than welcome.
“I’m very thankful,” she said. “It will definitely help. Every penny helps.”
Students are eligible to receive the scholarship in multiple years, as evidenced by Weinand, who received it for the second time in as many years.
Cresswell said that funding for the scholarships comes from a number of sources and that anyone wishing to donate to the fund should contact the SAF through its website or by calling 406-495-7506.
“These are for our Montana kids that are going to college in Montana,” she said.