As an associate professor in the Department of Management and Marketing in the Doermer School of Business, Sheena Choi empathizes with students who have children.
“We are a non-traditional campus, and I have students who have a full-time job, family and children, and then they are also full-time students,” Choi said. “I just think, `You are a super human being. I don’t know how you can manage that.’”
With the help of her husband, Bill Frank, Choi decided to help, instituting The Choi-Frank Students as Parents Childcare Support Award. After announcing a $30,000 gift during Purdue University Fort Wayne’s Day of Giving in April, the program started this semester with 10 awards of $500 for students to use to pay for childcare. The awards are renewable each semester.
Set up through The Women’s Center, the awards are based on need and not academic achievement.
“Attending college and providing for children can be financially difficult, not only for the student, but for their family as a whole,” said Cicelle Beemon, program assistant at The Women’s Center. “The Choi-Frank award will help to uplift and encourage our students that are also single parents who are in need of financial support. This award will alleviate some of that burden.”
The criteria include a preference for PFW students enrolled full-time and a demonstrated need in regard to paying for childcare. Additional consideration will be given to single parents. Students can begin the application process here.
In 2022, PFW enrolled 145 students who reported they financially support children or dependents while attending school.
“The Choi-Frank family understands the additional challenges of raising a family while pursuing a degree, along with the high costs associated with childcare,” an announcement from the Office of Development and Alumni Engagement said. “It creates an additional obstacle to completed a degree, and the Choi-Frank family wants to help students and encourage degree completion.”
The program is set up for an initial three years, but Choi said she’s hoping others will follow her lead by making contributions. Donations can be made through Bethany Clapper in the development office, or by using the GIVE link.
“I saw many students who are struggling with their childcare, juggling all these things, and I felt that was where the help was needed the most,” Choi said. “When the mother gets help and finishes school, the children’s opportunity becomes better, too. Eventually, anybody who finishes school will have a better chance in life, and a better chance to provide for themselves and their children.”
Choi has been a faculty member since 1999.