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About the 'CATapult Scholarship

Powering Students Past Obstacles


More than half of students who drop out of college leave because of cost. At Weber State University, we work to keep tuition affordable. But financial obstacles often cause students to take time off or leave school forever. 


While students are most likely to leave during their first year, 400 to 500 WSU students who are at least 75% of the way through their degree program drop out every semester. That’s why President Brad Mortensen launched the ’CATapult Scholarship initiative in 2020 — to provide a burst of momentum that helps students overcome obstacles, stay in school and complete their degrees.


Thanks to generous support from donors, more than 1,300 students have been able to stay on track to graduation. 

In addition to minority students, the ‘CATapult’ scholarship has helped many first generation graduates, single parents, and other financially disadvantaged members of our community.

 •   A typical recipient of the ‘CATapult and Completion awards is around 26 years old

 •  40% of the recipients are age 25+

 •   16% of recipients are Hispanic or Latino Descent

 •   3% of recipients are African American

  •  1% are Alaskan Native or Native American.

  •  65% of recipients have graduated to date with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree 

 •   97% of recipients still enrolled are at least 68% of the way through their degree requirements

Student Success Stories

Real Students, Real Success

"Dear Scholarship Donor, I am extremely humbled to have been selected to receive the CATapult Scholarship. Thank you for your help, which has given me the opportunity to focus solely on my education and not on how I am going to afford it. My parents are immigrants and were unable to complete a college education, so the education of their children is extremely important to them. However, because it is difficult to focus on school and work to support that education. This scholarship will essentially eliminate my need to work during the semester and help alleviate the financial burden from my parents. As I move on to my final two semesters at Weber State University, I will apply myself with renewed vigor thanks to your generous gift. This scholarship will directly help pay for my technical electives, which I have chosen in preparation of the career path I hope to take once I graduate. I will be taking Aerodynamics, and Finite Element Analysis, which will assist me in the Aeronautical Engineering field. I was recently accepted as an intern with Northrop Grumman, a defense contractor working primarily in aerospace. Now with your help, I have an even better chance to fulfill my ambitions by finishing strong and transitioning into my dream career. I cannot thank you enough for your kindness, and I will forever be grate l of this opportunity you have given me to graduate. Thank you."
Sergey Akhmedov
"Dear Scholarship Donor, I wanted to give my deepest appreciation for your generous donation. The CATapult scholarship will help me finish my degree at Weber State University. With the pandemic, I did not have the funds needed to complete my degree. This donation has allowed me to complete the last two semesters required to obtain my Bachelor's degree. I am a first generation college student. My dad dropped out of school at sixteen and joined the army and my mother married, the first time, very young. They did not have the money to help pay for my college education. This is not only a huge accomplishment for me but my parents are very proud. I did most of my college years as a single mother and working full-time. I wanted to show my son that you should never give up on your dreams, I had the goal to finish my college education. Even though it took longer than I expected - graduation is now in sight. Words cannot express how grateful I am to be receiving the CATapult Scholarship. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you!"
Jessica Lilly
"Thank you! The generosity of all the donors that help fund CATapult is touching and changes lives. CATapult funding of my education during this year is not only a huge educational, emotional, and financial benefit, but it also gives me time that I have not had for years—time to spend with my wife, upkeeping our 80-year-old house, prioritizing health, and time to spend supporting my younger brother as he adapts to living alone for the first time in a wheelchair when he moves from Colorado for school next fall. Two years ago, a tree fell on my brother's tent while he was camping and paralyzed him from the sternum down, leaving him with no core strength or stability. In the past, I have been limited by distance in being more than just an emotionally supportive brother. Since distance will not be an issue in the fall and spring, this scholarship will give me the time to physically be there for my brother in ways I have not been able to for most of his high school and post high school life. This scholarship is a blessing to that relationship and will, by association, improve my brother's life as well. The kindness of the CATapult donors will obviously help my grades during my last two semesters in school. But I want to emphasize that this act of service will help positively define the next 5 to 15 years of my our lives!"
E. Bryce Pexton
Jasmine Lagunas has loved caring for others since she was a certified nursing assistant in high school. Ever since, she has imagined herself working in healthcare, although she says at times it has seemed like “a far-fetched dream.” To become a nurse, “Weber State was where I had to go,” she said. She moved from Logan, Utah, to study at WSU’s Annie Taylor Dee School of Nursing. But in 2022, she was questioning whether she could finish school. “I had no idea how I would continue to pay for my education and had even considered taking a semester off,” she said. She reached out to professors and advisors, who led her to the ’CATapult Scholarship. “Hearing that I had been awarded the scholarship was so relieving,” Lagunas said. “It really motivated me to keep going.” In 2023, Lagunas passed the National Council Licensure Examination, an exam taken after completing a nursing program and required to obtain a license to practice. She enrolled in WSU’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program to take her education even further. “Weber State has endless opportunities because of all the programs they have to offer and teachers that genuinely care about your success,” she said. “While challenging times may arise, achieving dreams is never impossible.”
Jasmin Lagunas
Tammy McCray had one goal: to graduate with her degree before she turned 60. As a recipient of the ’CATapult Scholarship, the 59-year-old was able to do that in December 2020 with a degree in communication with an emphasis in public relations and advertising. Eventually, she hopes to use her education to promote her own photography business. Without the scholarship, McCray wouldn’t have had the financial means to finish her degree during the fall semester. She knew it would have been twice as hard to return to school if she took time off to save, and she didn’t see getting a loan as an option. McCray’s advisor suggested she look at scholarships to get through her final semester, which resulted in her finding ’CATapult. McCray said students should believe in their dreams no matter what, and never give up. “This has been on my bucket list,” she said.
Tammy McCray
Shortly before Serge Twagirayezu’s scheduled graduation, the COVID-19 pandemic halted his paid internship, and he also lost access to a crucial source of private funding. “At that point, I wasn’t sure I would ever earn a degree,” he said. “I had worked so hard, but I didn’t have any way to pay for the rest of my education.” Luckily, Twagirayezu’s classmate, who worked in WSU’s financial aid office, suggested he apply for a ’CATapult Scholarship. It proved to be the perfect backup plan. “The scholarship really catapulted me to the finish line, and I was able to graduate,” said Twagirayezu, who joined the engineering team at Cirque in Sandy, Utah. “I’d like to thank everyone at Weber who made that scholarship happen — donors, professors, staff — because they’re the people who really changed the world for me.”
Serge Twagirayezu

More Ways to Contribute

Walmart Round Up

Walmart Roundup is a fun way to support the Foundation. This is a simple way for you to support the Foundation every time you shop. A little bit of change donated can really add up! Simply login to your Walmart.com account. Click on your profile “Account” link, and then click on “Giving and Impact.” Then choose “James and Marian Aland Foundation” as your preferred charity. (You may have to do a search for it, or delete the default zip code first.) You are easily able to opt-in our opt-out at checkout.

Smith's Inspiring Donations

The Smith’s Inspiring Donations program makes fundraising easy by donating to local organizations based on the shopping you do every day. Once you link to our organization, all you have to do is shop at Smith’s and swipe your Shopper’s Card. This is free to you, but can make a big impact when you are your friends have signed up. Select “The James A. and Marian Hart Aland Foundation” – organization number GU567

"Fun"draising Golf Event

The Aland Foundation sponsors an annual fundraiser tournament for the Weber State University ‘Catapult Completion Scholarship. This is a Four person scramble at Crane Field Golf Course in Clinton, UT. Get your team together for a great cause! 100% of registrations are contributed to the WSU Catapult scholarship.  Divisions for men and co-ed teams. Held Mid-September each year. More at Cranefieldgolf.com/wsu

Interested in Learning More?

More about the James A. and Marian Hart Aland Foundation

Where much is Given...

Pay It Forward

The James A. and Marian Hart Aland Foundation, A Utah Non-Profit Corporation is recognized as a 501(3)(c) charity. Donations are tax deductible. 

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