Now a senior, set to graduate in May, Lena Scheibengraber is well-versed in all things related to financial aid. Not only is she a Wisconsin Tuition Grant recipient, but her work/study job is in Alverno’s Financial Aid office, so she knows all too well the impact and importance of tuition assistance for students who are struggling financially. This understanding provides an appreciation and enthusiasm for the benefits of an event like WAICU Students’ Day held, this year, on Wednesday, February 27.
Held every other year in Madison, Students’ Day is an opportunity for Wisconsin private college students to meet and converse with their state-elected representatives. Sponsored by the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (WAICU), the event is important because elected officials get a firsthand voice and face to relay the critical need for financial assistance programs like the Wisconsin Tuition Grant.
Since Lena actively participated in Students’ Day two years ago, her goal this time was to encourage first-time students to find their voice. “The event is well-organized, but it can also be intimidating, so my goal this year was to help other students tell their stories. I see the day-to-day impact of financial aid and I recognize those are the stories that need to be heard.”
To prepare for the day, Lena researched the elected official who represents her area: Wisconsin State Senator Tim Carpenter, District 3. Not only did she get background information on Senator Carpenter, but she also brushed up on facts and statistics about the Wisconsin Tuition Grant, which is the particular financial aid they would be discussing with representatives.
While in Madison, Lena also served as an invited guest on WAICU’s Student Panel, structured as a Q&A session for other students to ask questions and get tips on what to expect from their legislative visits. “It’s an honor to be asked to sit on the panel, plus it provides an opportunity for students to get more comfortable with what they’re going to say because they can draw on the experience of their peers.”
There’s a great deal of effort that goes into preparing and planning for Students’ Day, but from Lena’s perspective, it was a success. “The snowstorm might have been a detractor, but we were still able to have a presence and the legislator, or in our case his aide, was open and engaged with what we were sharing.”
The snowstorm, as Lena mentioned, was a major snow event that dumped more than a foot of snow in the Milwaukee area. It caused most of the Milwaukee-area schools that were scheduled to attend to, instead, cancel. Of the more than 70 students, faculty and staff who attended the event, Alverno comprised more than half with 41 total participants.