There is nothing apparently excellent or extraordinary about Cindy Oppel, a Business Student at UVU, yet this average UVU student has now made a large impact on this, the largest university in the state. Friday night, Oppel with teary eyes accepted a full tuition scholarship from President Holland himself. Because Oppel spoke up, she inspired Holland to begin campaigning for students like her.
Last year during Holland’s weekly lunch tradition with a student, he learned of Oppel’s struggle with MS. That day in the lunchroom, she spoke of her husband, who was recently diagnosed with double kidney failure. She was going back to school to get a business degree.
After this encounter, Holland said he was inspired to support students that might be “disadvantaged or first time students”.
Friday’s Scholarship Ball was dedicated to a special cause. It was the announcing of the total donations raised for student scholarship after a year of campaigning to the community.
Oppel’s story made such an impact, Holland mentioned at last years President’s Scholarship Ball his concerns for disadvantaged students such as Oppel. An attendee, Todd Peterson, CEO of Vivint, turned to Holland as he sat down and said, “I want to help any way I can.” Peterson’s involvement gave Holland an added enthusiasm to begin campaigning.
“I knew instantly we had something of grand potential,” Holland said.
This years Scholarship Ball was an evening of orderves, small talk as performers of an exotic sort hung from white curtains overhead. The guests, mostly those large contributors and recipients of scholarships, didn’t know of Holland’s excitement, or what he would announce.
Each year at the President’s Scholarship Ball, the school announces how much money was raised for scholarships, but Holland was particularly excited for this year’s ball, which took place Friday, Oct 14. This was to be the 70th anniversary for UVU, but more than that, he would be announcing “a great milestone for the university”.
As Holland gave his announcement, the crowd listened intently, he had built up his remarks early in the night.
The goal of that year’s scholarship campaign inspired by Oppel, was to raise $2 million for these scholarships. After five courses of UVU culinary arts program’s best, he announced that $4 million in scholarship money had been donated, doubling what was hoped for. These scholarships were specifically for the purpose of funding the education of students like Oppel, who would not necessarily have been chosen for their extra scholastic aptitude.
The crowd clapped with excitement for the accomplishment he had spear headed, but none could appreciate the accomplishment more than Oppel.
Oppel’s goal is to make and sell jam with the help of her degree, to support her struggling family and create a better life. She has already shared her passion with Holland.
In an enthusiastic tone, Holland said, “I’ve had some of those jams.”
Written by Tiffany Thatcher
Photos by Christina Ruth