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Connecting women, helping CMU students

Scholarship has supported students for a decade

Contact: Heather Smith

​Financial challenges faced by sole parents often result in sacrificing the pursuit of a college education, and an initiative that brings women together has enabled single parents or students from single-parent households to attend Central Michigan University.

The CMU Women's Connection was created in 2004 to bring alumnae and friends of CMU together. Three years later, supporters created an endowed scholarship to benefit part-time or full-time CMU students who are single parents or students from single-parent households. In this instance, single parent refers to a sole parental figure without any assistance, financial or otherwise, from the other parent or partner.

CMU First Lady WRAP-George and Elizabeth Ross.jpgElizabeth Ross, chair of Women's Connection, knows firsthand the struggles faced by single parents.

"When I was a single parent, I experienced the challenges of financing a college education for my daughter," Ross said. "I am passionate about helping our students however we can, and the Women's Connection scholarship provides one avenue." 

Since its inception, the scholarship has helped 12 CMU students realize their dreams of attending college. Since Ross joined the initiative in 2010, nearly $137,000 has been raised. Investment gains from the endowment's $225,000 fund student scholarships.

"Our students are our future leaders, and it is incumbent upon us to help educate them," Ross said. "I believe in the transformational power of education and its value to society."

The Women's Connection holds annual luncheon programs each year throughout Michigan. Funds from these events support the scholarship.

Tying up funds to support students

Fashion has found its place in the support of CMU students.

Along with funds from the luncheon events, an initiative developed by Ross last year expanded the Women's Connection Scholarship.

The idea was something she knew CMU supporters would love … "something CMU" they can wear. CMU's first-ever custom-designed CMU-branded ties and scarves were born.

The first scarf and tie fundraiser raised about $13,000 for the scholarship fund, and the second is underway.


CMU’s first-ever custom-designed CMU-branded ties and scarves, an initiative developed by CMU First Lady Elizabeth Ross, expanded the Women’s Connection scholarship. The first scarf and tie fundraiser raised about $13,000 for the scholarship fund.

2017-18 Women's Connection events

CMU President George E. Ross kicked off the 2017-18 Women's Connection events with a keynote Sept. 15 at the Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills. His address, "Do it anyway … and other leadership lessons," was presented to the nearly 70 women in attendance.

Women's Connection luncheons planned for this year include:

Friday, Oct. 27, 2017
The 8 Pillars to Optimal Health and the Power to Change Your Life
Featuring Heidi Shearer, 1990 alumna and owner of Freedom Enterprises
Downtown Market, Grand Rapids

Friday, Nov. 10, 2017
The Exponential Growth of a Connection
Featuring Erin Strang, president of the CMU Research Corp.
Courtyard by Marriott, Bay City

Friday, Feb. 23, 2018
Share the Light
Featuring Coach Laura Alford, collegiate and national level volleyball coach
Courtyard by Marriott, CMU's campus

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