Steve Iwanek '24 speaks during the historic announcement of the expansion of the Thompson Working Families Scholarship program on May 2. Iwanek, a Thompson Scholar, said the program gave him opportunities to help others through mentorship and allowed him to graduate nearly debt-free. (BGSU photo/Craig Bell)

Thompson Working Families scholar spotlight: Steve Iwanek’s journey from BGSU to broadcast booth

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The impact of the Thompson program allowed Iwanek to give back by mentoring and graduate from BGSU virtually debt-free

For recent Bowling Green State University alumnus Steve Iwanek ‘24, being a Thompson Working Families Scholar shaped his educational journey and helped him grow as a person.

Iwanek, who graduated with a degree in journalism, said the scholarship’s emphasis on compassion and giving back helped strengthen those values within him.

“I cannot say enough about how valuable my experience has been within the Thompson Scholarship program, both as a person and a student,” he said. “My involvement in the community and desire to give back really blossomed through the program.”

Aside from the scholarship-sponsored service opportunities, Iwanek said he made it a point to find his own ways to support the campus community. He did so by mentoring students in BG Falcon Media, the University’s student-run media organization.

As the organization's sports content director, Iwanek shared his journalism knowledge and experiences to help other students grow in the profession.

“I shared things I’ve learned or mistakes I’ve made to help others,” he said. “People sometimes need someone they can go to as a student. I tried to be that person whenever possible.”

In addition to the personal growth fostered through the program, Iwanek said he was incredibly grateful for the unmatched financial benefits offered through the Thompson Working Families Scholarship.

Iwanek graduated from BGSU virtually debt-free and said it was invaluable to have the financial freedom to pursue job opportunities that would benefit his future broadcasting career.

The experience he gained working at BG Falcon Media and through two broadcast internships led to a part-time position at WTOL 11 as a multi-skilled journalist, which became a full-time role after graduation.

“It’s nice to know that my hard work throughout college has paid off, and I had a full-time job ready and waiting for me once I graduated,” Iwanek said.

A journalist with a microphone interviews a person while a camera person records
Steven Iwanek '24 conducts an interview with WTOL 11 during the Toledo Mud Hens' season opener. (BGSU photo/Craig Bell)

Historic scholarship expansion

The recent historic announcement that the BGSU and the Thompson Foundation have increased their partnership to include nearly $250 million for student scholarships means more students like Iwanek from working families will be able to overcome financial barriers to higher education.

When combined with their past scholarship support, the Thompsons have shared their intent to increase their contribution to scholarships at BGSU to total $121 million, with the possibility of an additional $30 million to extend the program past 2035. If realized, the Thompsons will have contributed $150 million to student scholarships at BGSU.

From the program’s inception to expected completion in 2035, it will be responsible for creating nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in scholarships, when combined with the University's dollar-for-dollar match. More than 6,200 BGSU students are expected to receive Thompson scholarship support, from the program’s inception through 2035.

This contribution will be the largest in the University’s history, the largest single gift designated to student scholarships in the state of Ohio’s history and one of the largest non-endowed scholarship programs of its kind in the nation.

With an innovative public-private philanthropic partnership approach, the program ensures all parties are invested in student success. The University is committed to match the required Thompson scholarship funding, dollar for dollar, through University dollars and donor support for each student and ensure that students graduate in four years or less.

Iwanek said he’s excited to see the Thompson Scholarship program expand and continue shaping the experiences of future BGSU students.

“When I think about my experience, I think about the impact we’re making on society through this culture of service,” Iwanek said. “I hope that as the program grows, so does the compassion. I want to see that fire in people’s bellies to assist others and be selfless. I hope students in the program never forget the value of helping people.”

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | | 419-372-6349

Updated: 06/10/2024 10:00PM