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It won’t be long until Michaela Horstman graduates from Columbia College with her Bachelor of Science
degree in Business Administration. When she walks across the stage this spring, the Fulton, Missouri, native will be doing so after only three years in college, expediting her route through higher education by taking summer courses between the spring and fall terms.
She’ll also be doing so without any debt from student loans. The scholarships she has received from Columbia College helped see to that.
“The money that I have gotten has really allowed me to focus on my academics and has actually allowed me to get three 4.0s since I’ve been here at Columbia College,” said Horstman, who holds a cumulative grade-point average of 3.78. “I really never thought that going to a private school would be something that I could afford.”
That was exactly what Shelley E. Dale ’69 envisioned when she started the Lois J. Erdman Award for female business majors at Columbia College in honor of her mother. The same goes for Connie Nichols ’05, who started the Alla Mae Baker Memorial Scholarship in honor of her mother to reward exceptional business administration students at Columbia College.
Horstman has received funding from both awards. They give so that students such as Horstman can take full advantage of the opportunities at their disposal.
“I wanted to try and help someone to really go forth in life and make a difference,” said Nichols, vice president of real estate lending at Central Bank of Audrain County. “To me, it’s like ‘pay it forward.’ If I’m helping you to do this, I want my recipient to go ahead and, if they have the opportunity later in life, help someone else at whatever it is.”
Endowed aid helps students from all walks of life at Columbia College. Last year, the school awarded a total of $661,039 in endowed aid to 480 students.
Ben Burgett, a senior from Rocheport, Missouri, is in his second year after transferring credits and is on track to get his Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science this spring.
He values the close relationships with professors — assistant professor of Sociology Dr. Aurelien Mauxion and professor of Biology Dr. Nathan Means, especially — that the college provides, as well as the financial help he has received through scholarships provided by Helen B. Maupin ’45 and Central Bank of Boone County.
“Their philanthropy is greatly appreciated. It really allows us, as students, to focus on the academic side of college instead of having to worry about the debt when we get out,” Burgett says. “You’re going to graduate college and then be out in the job market looking for a career, and the last thing you want is a looming debt over your head.”
Horstman plans on pursuing a master’s degree after graduation, with an eye toward becoming a certified public accountant. She interned as an auditor at MFA Oil in Columbia over the summer, and she is currently working as an intern with the college’s Student Success Services. As part of her duties, she plans to go to high schools and communities around Columbia to talk about financial awareness.
Lois Spencer, Horstman’s grandmother, says Michaela has always held full- and part-time jobs in addition to her education and has been very good about saving and budgeting her money, lessons Spencer helped teach Horstman from an early age. She has seen Horstman blossom during her time at Columbia College.
“They’ve helped her and recognized that she’s a smart young lady,” Spencer said. “They have recognized her skills and aptitude and have looked to find extra scholarships to help her to be able to make the school more affordable for her to go there.
“I’m very proud of her and what she’s been able to accomplish, and how focused she is. She set a goal and she’s working toward it.”
Dale said her mother was incredibly gifted financially. But as with most women of her generation, Erdman went to college with the sole purpose of getting an “Mrs.” degree, in Dale’s words.
“I think, deep down, she was probably smarter than my dad, and that’s not taking away from my dad. But, once he passed away, she just blossomed,” Dale said. “I certainly had this whole new look at my mother. I knew she was smart, but I didn’t realize how business smart she was, and how her portfolio just zoomed. That’s what I wanted to do for these young women, give them an opportunity to be able to do the same thing and not have to worry about this tremendous college debt that everybody seems to get out of school with.
“If (Horstman) can get her master’s with that and she’s interested in that, go girl!”
Nichols found it difficult to get through college her first time around because she only received one student loan in the way of institutional support. She returned to school later in life and got her degree one year after her daughter, 2004 Columbia College graduate Brooke Baker.
Getting a college education has been a source of pride for her family. She wants to help others achieve that feeling.
“I was the first one of my generation in my family to get a college degree. In fact, I was the only one,” Nichols says. “I just puff all up with pride (for the scholarship recipients). I really do.”
If you are interested in information on how to start a scholarship, please contact the Columbia College Office of Development at (573) 875-7563.