The Legacy of Heroines program is celebrating its 25th year of awarding scholarships to outstanding students who seek involvement in and knowledge about the political process and public service. Since the first scholarships were awarded in 1996, the program has provided scholarships to 261 students, including this year’s group of 26 scholars.
Funded by gifts from private donors, many of the scholarships were established to honor family members or friends while supporting the next generation of heroines. Some of the scholarships were established by donors who themselves were scholarship recipients as students or to encourage scholarship in particular subject areas.
“The Legacy of Heroines Scholarship program is a wonderful way to promote civic engagement with diverse and gifted students. It also helps keep college affordable in an era when higher education costs are always increasing,” said Karen Kedrowski, director of the Catt Center.
Scholarship awards are based on academic merit, leadership and specific criteria established by the scholarship donors.
For example, the Political Science Alumni Legacy of Heroines Scholarship, established in 1996 and supported by gifts from several Iowa State political science alumni, requires that the recipient be an undergraduate student majoring in political science. The Joanne and Charles Kuster Legacy of Heroines Scholarship is awarded to an undergraduate student with a demonstrated interest in entrepreneurship and leadership skills. The scholarship was established in 2015 by Joanne and Charles Kuster, Iowa State alumni whose two daughters were active with the Catt Center and received Legacy of Heroines scholarships as undergraduates at Iowa State.
“It’s an honor to support Catt Center students through the Legacy of Heroines. We’ve been especially excited to have scholarship recipients pursuing disciplines such as agriculture, graphic design and engineering,” Joanne Kuster said. “Of course, it’s a pleasure to get to know these students, hear their excitement about plans after graduation, and see how eager they are to be part of Catt Center activities.”
Legacy of Heroines scholars come from a wide variety of majors and from colleges all across campus. Over the 25 years that the scholarships have been awarded, 75 majors have been represented, from accounting to zoology. The 26 scholars for the 2020-2021 academic year come from six colleges and represent 27 majors.
Although many of the scholarships were previously restricted to female students, now only six of the 16 active scholarships have gender as a criterion.
“Being a Legacy of Heroines scholar provided incredible opportunities throughout my time at Iowa State, such as meeting Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota before her campus lecture and interacting with community leaders like Dr. Monic Behnken,” said Cody Woodruff, a 2017-2020 recipient of the Rice-Neville Legacy of Heroines Scholarship funded by Catt Center director emerita Dianne Bystrom and her husband, Keith Bystrom.
“The best part of being a recipient of one of the scholarships was meeting so many other fantastic young leaders in the program and learning from the amazing women who help keep the Catt Center moving forward. Dianne and Keith’s scholarship changed my life, and I couldn’t be more grateful,” Woodruff said. A 2020 political science alumnus, Woodruff was active in Student Government and a member of the school board in his hometown of Carlisle, Iowa, while a student at Iowa State.
A number of Legacy of Heroines scholars have been first-generation college students, and their scholarship was often an important part of their financial aid package. Since the university began tracking this metric in the late 1990s, 42 first-generation students have received support from 17 different Legacy of Heroines scholarship funds.
“The Legacy of Heroines Scholarship Program helped me explore my field. I met other students in my major and I met past alumni currently working in the field,” Jessica Holtkamp said. “This program helped me get to where I am today.” Holtkamp, a first-generation student and 2019 political science alumna who now serves as assistant fellowship director at Campus Election Engagement Project, was a 2018-2019 recipient of the Haselhoff Family Legacy of Heroines Scholarship. The scholarship is funded by Sharon Haselhoff, a 1998 political science alumna and member of the first group of Legacy of Heroines scholars.
Legacy of Heroines scholars also reflect the racial and ethnic diversity on Iowa State’s campus, as measured by enrollment statistics from Iowa State’s Office of the Registrar. Over the years, 0.8 percent of the scholars have identified as American Indian/Alaskan Native, 6.2 percent as Black or African American, 75.5 percent as white, 5.5 percent as Asian, 6.5 percent as Hispanic/Latino and 1.5 percent as two or more races. The race/ethnicity of 4.2 percent of the scholars is unknown.
For the 2020-2021 academic year, 7.7 percent of the scholars identified as Black or African American, 65.4 percent as white, 11.5 percent as Hispanic/Latino and 3.8 percent as two or more races, with the race/ethnicity of 11.5 percent of the scholars unknown.
Legacy of Heroines scholarship recipients participate in mentoring and leadership development programs through the Catt Center. These programs have included field trips to the Iowa state Capitol and to the Carrie Chapman Catt Girlhood Home; dinners and question-and-answer sessions with Mary Louise Smith Chair lecturers and other speakers co-sponsored by the Catt Center; campus events such as the WE Lead Women’s Leadership Conference and follow-up WE Meet activities; lunches with local women leaders at the Joan Bice Underwood Tearoom; and skills development workshops on topics such as résumé development, financial literacy and professional etiquette.
Legacy of Heroines scholars also help at the Catt Center’s annual Women’s Equality Day event, and this year several scholars volunteered at the Hard Won. Not Done. 19th Amendment Centennial Commemoration Statewide Kickoff on Feb. 14, organized by the Catt Center and held at the Memorial Union at Iowa State.
“I have been a member of the Legacy of Heroines Scholarship Program for the past two years. Throughout this time, I have attended luncheons with empowering ISU staff and community members, learned much more about the Catt Center, and volunteered at voter registration and cast-your-kernel events,” said Abigail Mankins. Mankins was a 2019-2020 recipient of the Helen Jensen Howe Legacy of Heroines Scholarship for Women in Science, funded by Helen Jensen Howe of Muscatine, Iowa. Mankins is a 2020-2021 recipient of Elizabeth Hoffman and Brian R. Binger Legacy of Heroines Scholarship, funded by Elizabeth Hoffman, professor of economics and former dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and her husband Brian Binger, a retired professor of economics.
“I am now a graduate student in the Student Affairs M.Ed. program, taking a lot of the knowledge I have gained through the Legacy of Heroines Scholarship Program to assist in making universities and higher education institutions more socially just,” Mankins said.
You can view the list of Legacy of Heroines scholarships currently offered and the award criteria for each on the Catt Center’s website. You can also see the list of this year’s Legacy of Heroines scholars on the center’s website. We will share more information about this year’s scholars in the November issue of Voices.
Applications for the 2021-2022 academic year will open on Oct. 1. Students can apply for a Legacy of Heroines scholarship through the OneApp scholarship portal. The deadline for applications is March 1, 2021.