Janet Pina Eledezma, a junior studying sociology at Boise State University, is the first to receive the Scott Willison Memorial Scholarship.
The scholarship is directed at students who have overcome obstacles to attend Boise State. In addition to a monetary scholarship, Eledezma will be assigned a Boise State faculty mentor, to further honor Willison’s legacy of encouragement and support. The scholarship created in his name was made possible thanks to the generous donations of the campus community, raising more than $51,000 through PonyUp.
Eledezma was chosen for the scholarship based on an essay she submitted about how her life was changed forever after the passing of her younger brother. She explained how between her freshman and sophomore years of college her brother suffered the first of several lung collapses at only 16 years old. Eledezma decided to leave school and come home to help her mother manage her brother’s multiple doctors appointments.
“Janet exemplified the values of the scholarship by sacrificing her college education for the betterment of her family,” said Phil Kelly, professor in the College of Education and member of the scholarship selection committee. “Beyond that she is dedicating her career to helping others. The committee is prone to help her achieve her dream of helping people through social work.”
“His diagnosis was my life as much as his. I was left alone with the responsibilities of how we were going to pay for his medical bills or what the next best step was for his treatment,” wrote Eledezma. “My brother’s battle with this rare undiagnosed disease lasted for about four years. He passed February 3, 2017. To this day my mom and I don’t know what caused his sudden decline.”
Eledezma says that’s why she’s studying at Boise State to become a social worker.
“I want to be that support for a family. I want to know where patients and their families can find helpful resources and help them open those doors.”
Over the course of two decades at Boise State, Willison left an incredible legacy for underserved students in the Treasure Valley and on campus. He was an inspiring mentor to students, an innovative colleague, and a dedicated, caring father. During his tenure, he helped bring in over 40 million dollars in grant funding that provided direct support to more than 30,000 students.
“Scott worked tirelessly to assist students in need at Boise State,” said Rich Osguthorpe, dean of the College of Education. “It’s inspiring to see his legacy live on through this scholarship that will provide critical support to Janet as she continues her worthy pursuit of a degree that will help her, in turn, change many lives for the better.”