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The Impact of Donor Support

Scholarships help students pursue dreams of innovation and leadership.

Scholarships help make dreams come true for students from all backgrounds. We recently sat down with three scholarship recipients who shared how their time at Syracuse University has been enhanced by the scholarships they’ve received.

To give a gift—whether need-based or merit-based—helps students be able to take advantage of everything Syracuse has to offer.

Madison Prowak ’23

Writing His Story: David Barbier Jr.

Wide portrait of David Barbier Jr. standing in front of windows, smiling.

David Barbier Jr. ’23 received the Posse Leadership and Our Time Has Come scholarships.

David Barbier Jr. ’23 has been telling stories since he was 10 years old. “Theater was an outlet for me,” he says from Los Angeles where he’s currently studying with Newhouse LA in Los Angeles and interning at AMC Networks.

With a dream of becoming a storyteller, Barbier is studying television, radio and film through the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and international relations through the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. “I want to be someone who shapes culture and be a pillar for marginalized groups. I want people to come away from the content I’ve created and feel as if they can be their most authentic self. I want to leave something on this Earth that made people feel something,” Barbier says.

Barbier received the Posse Leadership Scholarship, which he says helps him focus on his classes without worrying about how to pay for his education. He’s also received several others, including the Our Time Has Come Scholarship and the Otey and Barbara Scruggs Maxwell School Scholarship. “With my scholarships, I get to focus on academics. I get to pour myself into Syracuse,” Barbier says. “These scholarships provide me the support needed to just be a student.”

He says he would not have been able to attend Syracuse University without the scholarships and that he’s thankful for the support from his professors and family. “When you have people in your life who encourage you to get the best out of it, it just makes you really want to go after it,” he says. “The support systems and the people I’ve met at Syracuse have made it so worthwhile that I can’t imagine being somewhere else.”

You’re investing in the next generation when you give a gift. I wouldn’t be able to pour my heart out into the things that I do if I had to worry about my financial situation. I’m so grateful.

David Barbier Jr. ’23

Because of his scholarships, Barbier has been able to pursue many opportunities. He has studied abroad in Korea, Italy and Spain, creating videos and blogs along the way. He has also taken interesting courses like screenwriting, which he says was a transformational experience because he had never written a script before. And he has met and interacted with alumni through his role on the Forever Orange Student Alumni Council.

He knows none of this would be possible without the support of donors. “If you want to set students up for success, you have to provide them the conditions they need to be the best versions of themselves,” Barbier says. “You’re investing in the next generation when you give a gift. I wouldn’t be able to pour my heart out into the things that I do if I had to worry about my financial situation. I’m so grateful.”

Creating His Legacy: David Bruen

Portrait of David Bruen sitting on a couch with his laptop and a book, smiling with his hands clasped in front/

Student Association president David Bruen ’23 is a Phanstiel Scholar, which recognizes leadership in community service.

David Bruen ’23 is a natural-born leader. From his volunteering efforts to serving in student government, Bruen—a dual major in political science and policy studies in the Maxwell School—loves tackling important issues and making a positive impact. President of the Student Association for two years, Bruen says political science was always an interest. Bruen campaigned on issues large and small but says his main platform and what he’s most passionate about is sustainability. He wants to see Syracuse University reach carbon neutrality by 2030.

It’s no surprise that for his efforts he was named a Phanstiel Scholar. “Being a Phanstiel Scholar means you’re being recognized for already demonstrating leadership in community service. It’s been a great honor, and it’s changed my life for the better,” Bruen says.

Launched in 2011, the Phanstiel Scholars Program provides scholarship support to middle-class students who demonstrate the potential for academic success and community leadership. Started by Howard G. “Howie” Phanstiel ’70, G’71, H’22, a Syracuse University Life Trustee, and his wife, Louise Phanstiel, a voting member of the Board of Trustees, the program has assisted more than 100 Phanstiel Scholars.

His courses at Maxwell and his experience in leadership outside of the classroom are helping Bruen reach his goal of a career of impact through nonprofit or philanthropic organizations. One such transformational experience outside the classroom is Bruen’s role as an undergraduate representative to the Board of Trustees where he’s able to share the concerns and ideas of his fellow students. “This experience allowed me to realize my interest and passion in organizational management oversight, as well as policy advocacy, and to put them into one thing,” Bruen says. “It’s given me the confidence to say that I’m good at those things and want to build on them so that I can be even better in my career.”

Lives—including mine—have been changed because of scholarship programs.

David Bruen ’23

Bruen says his experience at Syracuse was enhanced by his scholarship and that he’s grateful for the opportunity to show why he’s a worthy scholar. “Lives—including mine—have been changed because of scholarship programs. People have access to opportunities and the whole trajectory of their life has been changed because of donors and the programs that they create.”

He says receiving the scholarship made him believe that he can handle more than he thought possible. “I’ve learned a lot, grown a lot, matured a lot. And I’ve been so supported by the Phanstiel family, by my peers in student government, by University staff and faculty who have shown me that beyond this University, so much more is possible.”

Paving a Path to Discovery: Madison Prowak

Portrait of Madison Prowak outside, smiling with hands clasped in front.

Madison Prowak ’23 received a merit-based scholarship and looks forward to one day giving a gift to the University to help students in need.

Madison Prowak ’23 was determined to make the most of her time at Syracuse University. “These four years are so precious in terms of discovering yourself, what you really want to do and the people you want to surround yourself with.”

The biology major in the College of Arts and Sciences always liked working with people and is focused on a future career in health care. Prowak, who’s also minoring in nutrition science and psychology, hopes to become a physician assistant.

Prowak is the recipient of a merit-based scholarship. “It was rewarding to get a scholarship—I’m grateful. It’s nice to be recognized for something you’ve worked so hard for.”

Donor gifts, Prowak says, are a great way for students to find their interests and can pursue other experiences, opportunities and internships with less financial burden. “To give a gift—whether need-based or merit-based—helps students be able to take advantage of everything Syracuse has to offer,” Prowak explains. “To have donors give back and make a direct impact on students and their experience, encompasses the mission of Syracuse University and impacts the trajectory of the recipient.”

I’m looking forward to being Forever Orange, and it makes me excited to give the same sort of gift in the future to help facilitate the experiences for somebody else.

Madison Prowak ’23

The senior is a research assistant in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, a tutor and part of the Forever Orange Student Alumni Council (FOSAC). Prowak, whose parents both attended Syracuse, enjoys being able to connect with alumni and students through FOSAC. “You create connections and have interactions that make you feel more grateful to be a part of Syracuse.” The experience has made her eager to give back to the University that has given her so much.

“I’m looking forward to being Forever Orange, and it makes me excited to give the same sort of gift in the future to help facilitate the experiences for somebody else.”

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