’Canes Communities deliver scholarships to 23 first-year students

’Canes Communities deliver scholarships to 23 first-year students

By Maeve McQueeny

’Canes Communities deliver scholarships to 23 first-year students

By Maeve McQueeny
The ’Canes Community Scholarship Program enables alumni to open doors to opportunity and make dreams come true for aspiring ’Canes.

This past spring, ’Canes Communities awarded 23 scholarships to first-year students, thanks to some spirited giving among these regional networks of alumni, parents, and friends of the U. This is the greatest number of scholarships the ’Canes Communities has awarded since the program’s inception in 2018.

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Special congratulations to the Broward County, Miami, and NewYork 'Canes Communities for exceeding, or in some cases doubling, their annual scholarship goal this year.

For Matthew Beekhuizen, B.B.A. ’91, former president of the Broward County ’Canes Community, meeting need in the community through scholarship assistance is especially gratifying because “we get to see the direct impact of our efforts − every dollar raised is awarded back to students living in our community.”

Beekhuizen, who attended the U on a scholarship, added “I relied on scholarship awards to attend the University of Miami. I know firsthand how important these awards are and how far the money goes.”

The ’Canes Community Scholarship Fund is part of the University of Miami’s effort to increase access to a high-quality education by expanding scholarships to meet the demonstrated needs of students.

The fund is made possible by alumni donors paying it forward, creating brighter futures and opportunities for students like Zoe Mutombo, Chelsey Reynolds, and Erika Bilenka in the process.

Meet Zoe Mutombo, Class of 2025

Zoe Mutombo recalls the moment she decided to attend the University of Miami:.

“I remember leaving campus excited about my future. No other school could compare to the joy I felt at the U,” she said.

A first-generation American, Mutombo said, “Education at a private university was something I never believed my family could afford. But with scholarships and aid, my dream became possible.”

To the alumni that made her dream a reality, Mutombo said “Knowing that people have invested in my future further motivates me to do better.” She continued, “I am very grateful for the opportunities that this scholarship has given me.”

Mutombo is studying nursing, with a minor in public health. She hopes one day to use her education to “help people and hopefully, improve the health care system in the U.S.”

Meet Chelsey Reynolds, Class of 2025

When Chelsea Reynolds discovered biomedical engineering, which combined her competing passions for engineering and medicine, she “became entranced with this field.”

“I was searching for the perfect school that would help me towards my goals of becoming a biomedical engineer and, eventually, an orthopedic surgeon,” Reynolds said. “I came across the University of Miami, which was offering a six-year medical school with a biomedical engineering program and a pre-med concentration. It was also well renowned for its orthopedic work.”

“Being at UM has felt surreal,” she said.  

Reynolds says the ’Canes Community Scholarship has helped “reduce the amount of stress and anxiety I feel around finances, which has, in turn, allowed for me to spend more time concentrating on my studies.”

She added that the scholarship support from her Orlando ’Canes Community led her to reflect on “the impact I want to have on this world and the community that I live in.” She continued, “I want to take the education I receive at the University of Miami to make the world I’m living in a better place than I found it.”

Meet Erika Bilenka, Class of 2025

For Erika Bilenka, “This scholarship keeps my options open.”

“For motivated students like me, scholarships equate to opportunities,” she noted. “For example, I will have the opportunity to take classes over the summer. This will free me to take more difficult courses during the fall 2022 semester and, potentially, start studying for the MCAT.”

Bilenka added that “scholarships help recognize countless hours of hard work and further motivate students to keep it up.”

With the winning combination of an attentive faculty, small class sizes, and abundant research opportunities, Bilenka believes that “the school chose me just as much as I chose this school.”

“The University of Miami’s strong and rigorous pre-med program was an equal factor that played into my decision,” she added.

The fact that her scholarship support is funded by alumni carries even more significance to Bilenka. “That alumni want to contribute goes to show that the University of Miami must have opened them up to new opportunities. The University of Miami is a school that sets its students up for success. It makes me proud to be a part of such an impressive and distinguished community.”

Bilenka is studying biology at the University. She is working towards attending medical school with the dream of establishing her own practice.