It’s no secret that higher education can be prohibitively expensive. But the Stephen H. Swigart Scholarship for Higher Education aims to help BSCAI members meet those costs. The scholarship, which is available for building service contractors and their families, is sponsored by Spartan Chemical Company.
The origins of the scholarship can be traced back to an ISSA event, says Jerred Attanasio, Spartan’s director of building service contractors (BSCs). Spartan, which prioritizes education company-wide, already had a scholarship for ISSA members. At the ISSA event, however, Spartan Chairman and CEO Steve Swigart realized there was an opportunity to expand the scholarship program.
“Steve had witnessed our interactions with the BSC partners [at the event],” Attanasio says. “He pulled me aside and said, ‘Hey, I’ve got a great idea. I think we should look at putting together a scholarship … We’ve got to have something we can offer to the BSCs directly.’”
Swigart had noticed how close-knit the BSC community is, Attanasio says, and felt that establishing a scholarship would be a good way to show appreciation for BSCs. Attanasio compares the BSC industry to a family, and says that members of the industry will jump at the chance to help one another. In establishing the scholarship, Spartan hoped to embody that spirit of support and affirm its commitment to the BSC market.
Cali Sartor, Spartan’s vice president of marketing, adds that the scholarship also reflects the importance of BSCs in today’s world.
“[The scholarship] acknowledges the important value that building service contractors bring to the whole entire public from a health and safety [standpoint],” she says.
After Swigart had the idea to create the BSCAI-specific scholarship, a BSCAI team started working on the program. Sartor says BSCAI Executive Vice President Chris Mundschenk led the effort, while Spartan provided support and information where needed. The Spartan and BSCAI teams worked together to develop the announcement of the scholarship to the BSCAI community. In the end, they decided to launch the scholarship at CEO Summit.
“When [then-BSCAI President Michael Diamond] made the announcement at the CEO Summit, we had probably 10 to 20 BSCs just come up to us and say ‘thank you,’” Attanasio says. Meanwhile, after the event, Attanasio says he received several dozen phone calls from other BSCs curious about the scholarship and wondering how to get involved.
The process of applying for the scholarship is simple. BSCAI’s webpage for the scholarship offers some more information about the award and provides a preview of the application questions, which focus on community involvement, extracurricular activities, achievements, goals and areas of academic interest. Applicants must also submit two letters of recommendation.
Sartor urges anyone eligible for the scholarship — including BSCs and their family members — to apply.
Spartan does not have “a predisposed idea of who should get it,” she says. “We’re thrilled at whoever gets it, because we know that the criteria that BSCAI established is going to get it in the hands of someone who needs it.”
Attanasio agrees that anyone eligible for the award should apply for it. He points out that higher education is becoming more expensive every year, and says any financial aid can go a long way in making college more affordable.
Sartor sums it up succinctly: “There’s no reason why not to” apply, she says. “It’s a no-brainer.”
Applications for the 2021 scholarship are open until July 23, 2021. Apply now.