Northern will soon be able to offer Upper Peninsula students a chance to study abroad, with the help of a $1 million endowment through the Northern Michigan University Foundation. The money was donated by Gloria and Bill Jackson, both of whom are U.P. natives.
Each year, the Jackson Scholars Study Abroad Endowment will provide funds for one NMU student hailing from each of the U.P.’s 15 counties.
If a county is unrepresented, another county may have multiple students who receive the scholarship.
Gloria Jackson, who is also an NMU alum, said she wanted the scholarship to cater to U.P. students for a number of reasons.
“I feel, sometimes, the Upper Peninsula is kind of stuck away,” she said.
“It’s God’s country, away from the mainstream sometimes, so this will give students from the U.P. who might not have a chance to go overseas a chance.”
While speaking with NMU President Les Wong about his “Roadmap to 2015,” which places a strong emphasis on international experiences for students, Jackson said she knew this would be a good time to set up the scholarship.
“Dr. Wong and I were talking, and he’d like to see Northern students have a period of study abroad experience. That fits in with exactly what I’d like to see,” she said.
Martha Haynes, director of the NMU Foundation, said this is a substantial gift which will help many Northern students in the years to come.
“This is a lovely gift for Northern,” she said “Anything that helps our students is valuable, and this gift fulfills (the Jacksons’) vision for how they want to help the university.”
Vincent Grout, director of communication for the Foundation, said both the university and the Jacksons are excited about the help this scholarship will provide to students wishing to study abroad.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “Their passion is completely in line with the university’s strategy with the 2015 road map. They came together in a line, each supporting the other.”
And while Jackson said she believes having international experiences is important in a student’s life, she also carries this belief over into her own life.
Among other things, Jackson is the Honorary Council of Finland in the state of Arizona and she is also involved with the Arizona Consular Corps. As the Honorary Council, Jackson works to facilitate relationships between business and education leaders in Finland and in Arizona.
Jackson has maintained ties with Northern in several ways, including serving on the NMU Foundation’s Board of Trustees and she was also the keynote speaker for December’s commencement ceremony, where she received an honorary degree.
Gloria Jackson grew up in Marquette and graduated from Northern, and her husband grew up in Laurium, Mich. and graduated from Michigan Tech.
The Jacksons have a previous endowed scholarship tailored to U.P. students studying Business at Northern.