More than a Scholarship
The Gupta Values Scholarship enshrines the value of values.
More than a ScholarshipNovember 26, 2018
There is no question that all scholarships are good, though if you ask any of the 21 members of this year’s cohort of Gupta Values Scholars, they will agree that their scholarship feels particularly special.
It feels special because its benefactors—alumnus Shashikant (Shashi) Gupta and his wife Margaret—have made it so.
“One of the best things you can give is an education,” says Margaret Gupta. “Giving scholarships to students so they can earn their college degree is something very near and dear to our hearts.”
But the Guptas have always done things a little differently. So, naturally, they didn’t want to just give financial support.
The Guptas’ ability to be philanthropic stems from the success of the company they built—and currently run as CEO and COO—together. Their company was built on a foundation of three core values that were important to them: integrity, human dignity, and excellence. They wanted to conduct a social experiment—could a company founded on these values and for which profits were a by-product and not the primary purpose thrive in today’s world? The experiment succeeded. Their employees feel valued, value each other, and passionately produce excellent work.
So they created their scholarship as a replica of their business model. Students are selected for the scholarship based on a demonstrated commitment to those same values in everything they do. Outside of that, the group couldn’t be more different. They come from all over the country, from all different backgrounds, and are diverse in their career aspirations.
Each Gupta Values Scholar receives a $5,000 annual tuition award. They have access to leadership opportunities and support for off-campus educational experiences in order to strengthen their commitment to the values they will carry into their personal and professional lives.
They also get Shashi and Margaret Gupta.
“One of the things we wanted to do differently was to have an ongoing relationship with the students. We wanted to know them, have conversations with them, so as to give concrete and real meaning to the values” says Shashi Gupta.
Each year, scholars have an opportunity to spend a weekend with the Guptas in the Washington, D.C., area. They visit the Guptas’ company headquarters, and other social organizations the Guptas have supported through their foundation. They take thought-provoking field trips to places like the African American Museum and Monticello, and interact with interesting people who are making a positive difference in others' lives. Last Spring, they dialogued Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton and Congressman Gerry Connolly.
The Guptas’ involvement in the lives of their scholarship recipients has made an overwhelmingly positive impact on the students.
“Scholarships have allowed me to pursue a lot of opportunities I wouldn’t have been able to pursue otherwise,” says Tristyn Walton, Gupta Scholar and senior from Detroit. Tristyn is an Honors College student—a Truman Scholar and a Social Science Scholar who has been deeply involved in research and activism.
“Above all else,” Tristyn says, “I am most grateful because the Gupta Values Scholarship and the sincere personal relationship with the Guptas has significantly expanded my village of support here at MSU.”
In addition to their trips to D.C., Gupta Scholars are offered a one-time award of $5,000 to offset the cost of an experiential opportunity.
Being exposed to diversity—of people, of thought, of experience—outside the classroom is intentional, says Doug Estry, who oversees the program for the Office of the Provost. “We want them to ask themselves ‘How am I going to apply these values in new and challenging situations?’ or ‘How am I going to help others see the importance of making decisions based on a strong set of core values like those at the heart this scholarship?’”
When they graduate, they will enter the workforce with the disciplinary knowledge for their specific field—journalism, engineering, business, the list goes on. But they will also have developed strength of character, a deep sense of purpose, and the ability to apply both to the decisions they make and the way they engage people around them.
“The reason we got into business to begin with is because we believe that business should be a force for good,” Margaret Gupta says. “Promoting those values, and finding people who are interested in living by them, has really driven this scholarship program.”
Learn more about support for the scholarships by contacting Senior Director of Development Jennifer Bertram at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (517) 432-7330.