Brenna Duffy knows the life-changing impact donors have on Calvin students.

Despite working multiple jobs, Duffy, a New Jersey native, realized she would not be able to afford to stay at Calvin. Devastated by that thought, she reached out to the financial aid office as a last resort.

At the same time Duffy was realizing the gravity of her situation, Paul Witte, director of financial aid, received word that the stewards of the Hamstra Foundation Scholarship had additional funds to award— something that doesn’t typically happen mid-semester. Their scholarship specifies that the funds should go to a current Calvin student from New Jersey, and he had selected Duffy to receive the aid.

Witte saw her name added to his schedule for the day, and when she walked in, he already had a smile on his face. Knowing she would likely be leaving Calvin, Duffy had a hard time understanding his smile. But when Witte gave her the news, she was hopeful. The Hamstra Foundation Scholarship ended up being exactly what she needed to stay at Calvin.

Released from the financial pressure, Duffy has been able to invest in the Calvin community in new ways—playing on the women’s rugby team and serving on the student committee for the Festival of Faith and Writing.

When asked what she would say to potential donors, Duffy said: “I would tell somebody…that their gift has so much more of an impact than just lifting a financial burden. Their gift can also be a providential answer from God for some student.”

Stories like this wouldn’t be possible without the support of Calvin alumni and friends.

Not only do these gifts help lower the cost of education for hundreds of students, but for many, they make a Calvin education possible. Last year our donors gave over $5.8 million to support student scholarships, exceeding our average of $4.3 million in the past decade. The vast majority of those funds went to endowed scholarships that will benefit students for years to come.

In addition, the Calvin Annual Fund received more than $3.2 million. This undesignated fund fills the gap where tuition dollars stop and impacts every single one of our students. Collectively, these gifts also mean the average student debt has continued to decline for Calvin graduates, and we’re almost 8% below the national average of students who default on their loans.

For Duffy, the impact of your support is clear. It reminds her that, “No matter what struggles I’m going through, God will always continue to answer my prayers and surprise me in ways that will impact my faith more than I could ever expect.”