Barrett sophomore Abril Morales gained acceptance and mentorship through scholarship

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March 17, 2021

The Austin James Service Scholarship did more than provide a financial boost for Arizona State University student Abril Morales. It also helped her realize she belonged at the university. 

“Entering college as a first-generation student, I had doubts about my abilities. However, once I learned that I was chosen by Dean Jacobs as the first Austin James Scholarship recipient, I gained more confidence in myself,” said Abril, a sophomore in Barrett, The Honors College at ASU majoring in applied mathematics at the West campus.

“So far, my educational experience has been memorable because I do not need to worry about the extra expenses and have more liberty when seeking other opportunities, such as being a Barrett student. I can invest more time in my education as a recipient of the scholarship. Especially during these difficult times, I can help my family cover some expenses and focus on my education,” she added.

The scholarship, worth $2,500, supports a Barrett student who has demonstrated community service in the past and will continue to pursue service opportunities during their time at ASU. This scholarship is only for an incoming freshman who is an Arizona resident and first-generation college student. The scholarship is renewable for three additional years if the scholarship GPA, credit hours and enrollment status criteria are successfully met each academic year. 

Jim Sliwicki, special projects director in ASU’s Office of Planning and Budget, established the scholarship in honor of his son, who graduated ASU in 2019 with bachelor’s degrees in accountancy and economics and honors from Barrett, The Honors College. 

Sliwicki said his son flourished at Barrett, The Honors College, and continues to thrive as an alum, so he created the scholarship to help other students do the same. 

Barrett students “have big dreams, their goals are commendable, they’re impressive young people. I’m happy to invest in them,” he said. 

In addition to the financial support, Sliwicki provides moral support and mentoring for scholarship recipients.

“It’s a relationship thing. I really look forward to meeting them and talking about their goals and aspirations. I try to help them however I can,” he said. 

Morales is grateful for Jim’s investment and personal interest. 

“Not only was I awarded the Austin James Scholarship, I have gained a mentor. Jim shares his experiences as a first-generation college student and tells me about his son’s path at ASU. Listening to his stories and advice, I believe the college experience is less intimidating. His support continues to inspire me as I work hard and immerse myself at ASU,” she said. 

After completing her undergraduate degree at ASU, Morales hopes to pursue a doctorate degree in data science at the University of Chicago. 

She is interested in the data science field because it offers research opportunities that focus on social good and helping communities. 

“My parents taught me the importance of helping others, and I want to dedicate my career to help create solutions for issues we face today, specifically within social justice. This scholarship helps me pursue my goals because I have a support system and have access to the Barrett community. I can reach out to Jim or Barrett faculty when seeking professional or academic advising. My professional goals take shape because of the countless interactions I have within the Barrett community that I otherwise would not have afforded,” Morales said. 

March 18, 2021 is Sun Devil Giving Day, a 24-hour fundraising event at ASU. Learn how you can help support Barrett, The Honors College students on Sun Devil Giving Day.

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