Scholarships Offer Hope and Encouragement…One Young Man’s Story
A highlight of this year’s Scholarship Dinner was CoB accounting senior Anthony Sedlak’s speech on the impact of scholarship dollars on his life and academic career. His is a story of great adversity, yet enduring hope. We have included Sedlak’s speech here so that you may better understand the impact of giving to young scholars who often struggle against great odds.
Enjoy Sedlak’s Speech:
Good Evening. My name is Anthony Sedlak, and I am a senior at Loyola. Three years ago, before I transferred to Loyola, I was homeless, with 6 cents in my bank account and a $20 bill between my single-mother and myself. The economic downturn had caused my already struggling family to eventually lose everything. My family had fallen apart due to divorce, my mother’s schizophrenia had raged out of control, and I lost everything I ever had. Thankfully, three months ago, I signed a contract with a worldwide accounting firm for a large starting salary when I graduate this May.
Your financial donations to my college expenses made this fortunate turnaround possible. It is because of donations like yours that a boy with a dream could work his hardest to achieve what his circumstances told him were impossible. No matter how hard one works to achieve their dreams, sometimes it is only with the helping hand of donors such as yourselves that he can rise above and accomplish his goals.
Tonight, I would like to talk to you about three ways in which your donations help students like myself. First, before starting college, your donations give us hope. Hope, that if we strive hard enough in our studies, we can receive the means to attend and graduate college. Second, your donations give us encouragement to keep going while in college, mentally and financially. Third, your generosity extends beyond your investment into our lives and into the lives of future generations.
My first point deals with hope. When I was at the lowest of lows, with little-to-no possibility in sight to rise above my financial circumstances, the thing that kept me going was hope. Hope that I would be able to graduate college due to scholarships from my stellar academic performance. I worked three different near-minimum wage jobs during this time period, and the hope of scholarships such as yours was how I was able to survive the monotony and exhaustion of my work. The idea of scholarships also gave me an added desire to put my all into my studies at my community college, and it inspired me enough to transfer to Loyola with a perfect 4.0 GPA after two years of college. When speaking of the most important things in life, the Apostle Paul wrote in Corinthians that three things remained: “Faith, Hope, and Love.” He and I both understand the importance of hope, and your generosity has given me and many others the hope that we needed. It’s more than just financial hope, it’s the hope that someone will appreciate and reward our hard work.
This brings me to my second point, your philanthropy gives us not only the financial opportunity to continue our studies in college, but also the emotional strength to see it through. Whenever I have been awarded scholarships, I have always felt an encouragement that extended far beyond financial means. Your donation is not just money, it is symbolic in that it demonstrates trust in us, that we will take what you have given us and turn it into something good for the world through our college education. The fact that someone who has never met us is willing to give us financial empowerment creates such a level of gratefulness in not only your gift, but the fact that you have seen our hard work and want us to succeed.
This empowerment to succeed brings me to my third point, which is that your donations extend far beyond our lives and indirectly bless the lives of those around us through our future successes. Some of us will graduate and become doctors, lawyers, businesspeople, artists, musicians, and engineers. Perhaps the cure for cancer will be discovered by a Loyola grad. Our business students can help stimulate the economy and create jobs for our nation’s unemployed. Who knows? Maybe the next Tchaikovsky is one of our very own musicians. None of this would be possible without your support. You have given us the potential to help the world. You have unlocked the future for us. Also, when we become as successful as you, we will be able to donate back to students like ourselves, thus creating the circle of philanthropy which passes from one generation to the other. Thank you for continuing this circle of generosity.
I believe my purpose in life is to help those in need through my personal finances by empowering people to lift themselves above their circumstances, just as you have done for me. I truly am the poster child of what can be accomplished through capitalism and hard work. I am the living definition of “rags to riches.” But none of this would be possible without your help.
One of the ideals of Jesuit education is to possess a “Special Concern for the Poor and Oppressed,” and Jesus once said that whatever you do to help those in need, you do unto Him. Thank you for your service to Christ.
Thank you for giving us hope, continual encouragement to work hard, and the ability to make the world a better place. We will be forever grateful for the opportunities you have provided us.
“Anthony was a conscientious student, and always exhibited a positive attitude and a deep faith in Christ. I did not know of the hardships and challenges he endured and overcame to earn his accounting degree (with a 3.9 GPA) until a month before graduation. He never complained of his situation. Despite academic and personal demands, Anthony found the time and energy to give back to his community by serving as a senior counselor for the Crossroads Christian Youth Center and actively participating in several academic honor organizations. Anthony is not only an outstanding student, but an outstanding human being.
"It was an honor, privilege, and immense joy to have worked with Anthony for the past two years. Anthony has made Loyola proud, and I am confident that he will continue to make Loyola proud as he achieves even greater successes in his professional career and personal life.”
—Pat Lynch, Visiting Assistant Professor of Accounting