A whopping 98% of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ available scholarship funds made it to students this school year, well above the University of Arizona average.
“This is a huge win – it means more money out the door for our students,” said Camille Andersen, the CALS director of scholarship administration.
If part of the challenge is making students aware of opportunities and getting them to apply, CALS is winning there, too. The college had 1,139 applicants for scholarships in the most recent application period, nearly 41 percent above the previous high of 810 for the 2020-2021 school year, Andersen said.
The success hasn’t gone unnoticed. This month, Andersen received a 2022 Award for Excellence, a prestigious university-wide accolade presented by the Staff Council and the President’s Cabinet.
As one of Andersen’s nominators put it, “She is exceptional for the system that she created, which is efficient, effective, low waste, and for the transformative results it has created for students.”
Andersen, a Washington State native who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics, has been with the university since 2010, initially handling roles in financial aid and IT project management. She shared a bit of her perspective on the scholarship system and why it is so important to CALS and its students:
What are the key things you try to accomplish in your role?
CALS has come so far in awarding out all our available funds every year and making sure we are fulfilling donor wishes for every scholarship. I want to continue to make this process more efficient for students when they apply and for CALS faculty, staff, and administrators when they select the winners. All of us CALS folks are the white noise in the middle – whatever makes this process the best for the donors and students is what we will continue to strive toward.
What is the best way for current students and potential students to know about scholarship opportunities?
Our CALS scholarships website is the best place to start. From there, students can get to a how-to-apply guide that I custom create for CALS students every year, and they can also see a list of potential scholarships by major. I want to share major kudos to my colleagues on the Career and Academic Services team for making sure this information is included in our student newsletters, social media, and student-centered events that occur every spring. Our academic units do an outstanding job reminding their students to apply every spring between January 1 and April 1.
What advice would you give students as they consider applying for scholarships?
There truly are scholarships for every type of CALS student. Really. Every academic level (first-year through graduate students), every major, every GPA, every campus. CALS donors have been so generous to allow us to award over $1.1 million in scholarships every year. I so genuinely mean it when I say that every CALS student should apply. We want to link you up with as much funding as possible.
We work hard to keep improving the process for students. Students apply on Scholarship Universe, and we know that system can be finnicky. We were the first college on campus to create a custom-made, how-to-apply guide for our students and to record an accompanying walk-through video. Somehow, my voiceover work has not won me an Oscar yet! I am mainly behind the scenes, but I really care about making this a smooth process for our students and for the awarding departments. Their time is valuable!
How does your work fit into the mission of the university and of CALS?
Scholarship funding helps to support both recruitment and retention goals for CALS. For many students, it is either scholarships or more loans. Not only are we supporting them to stay here and thrive at UArizona, we are helping their long-term trajectory by decreasing their student loan debt.
How has the scholarship process evolved during your time here?
CALS is a leader on campus for scholarships. It takes a village, and I am so proud of our hard work. Fun fact: Over 80 CALS staff, faculty and administrators come together every year to review applicants and select winners. We have been so successful that we have been able to partner with the UA Foundation to support this centralized scholarships role (my position) via a shared salary line, and this model has grown to four of us among academic colleges.
What gives you the most fulfillment in your job?
I really care about stewardship and fairness; in other words, leaving something better than when you found it. Through these partnerships, we have built a scholarships model that benefits our students by awarding out our funds every year and providing a fair, even review of every applicant. Plus, we can look our donors square in the eye and report back to them how much their funds are helping our students, and how we are awarding their donated funds to the letter of their wishes. These are the things that really resonate with me. A lot of people come together with this common goal of student success.
Learn more about CALS scholarship opportunities