Couple establishes new scholarship for Chicago students

Local News
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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Indiana State University’s need-based Bridge the Gap Scholarship initiative has been enhanced by a generous gift from a Chicago couple.

Jim and Sue Pajakowski have donated $350,000 to establish the Michael Grant Pajakowski Bridge the Gap Scholarship endowment in memory of their late son. Their commitment will provide $20,000 each year to support students from Chicago.

“Jim and Sue have made a tremendous commitment in Michael’s memory to positively impact others and benefit students for generations to come,” Indiana State University President Deborah Curtis said. “Michael’s legacy will ensure our academically talented students from the Chicago area, regardless of their financial situation, are on track to walk across the stage at commencement.”

Research has shown finances — not academics — are often the reason students drop out of college. Bridge the Gap scholarships provide the funding students need between the financial resources they have (financial aid, family contributions, etc.) and their full cost of attendance.

“Young people in less advantaged communities in Chicago are not facing a level playing field,” Jim Pajakowski said. “That is simply a fact. Against the odds, many fight their way through the obstacles, only to be deflated along the way when they can no longer make ends meet. We hope this scholarship will help some of those students attending ISU to clear those last few hurdles and achieve their goal of a college degree.”

The Pajakowskis are longtime supporters of Indiana State. Jim Pajakowski, who earned a degree in accounting from Indiana State, serves on the ISU President’s Advisory Council. He is executive vice president and founder of the global business consulting firm Protiviti.

“We have been very fortunate and blessed in our lives,” Jim Pajakowski said. “As a result, we feel a responsibility to give back to others. Using our resources to give others the chance we had, such as the opportunity to attend college, fulfills our goal to give back and enriches our lives. We hope our gift will enrich the lives of others and that someday they can pass it forward.”

Bridge the Gap Scholarships are a current funding priority for the university. Since the introduction of the effort one year ago, more than $700,000 in donor support has been raised by the Division of University Advancement.

“Need-based scholarships are critical to our university,” said Andrea Angel, vice president for University Advancement and CEO of the ISU Foundation. “We know that more than half of our students have exceptional financial need. Bridge the Gap Scholarships provide them with the means achieve their educational goals. Thanks to Jim and Sue, as well as all our donors who have supported this important initiative, these scholarships are helping to keep academically eligible students enrolled at ISU.”

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