Making An Impact

Oakland University graduate Aaron Helander, CAS '17, establishes an annual scholarship for undergraduate students

Oakland University graduate Aaron Helander in a dimly lit hallway in Meadow Brook Hall

Stellar Support

icon of a calendarJune 15, 2018

icon of a pencilBy Eric Reikowski

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Aaron Helander, CAS ’17, understands how financial aid scholarships can change a student’s life. Scholarships opened the door for him to attend college and pursue his passions, including education, athletics and service. As an undergraduate, Helander was captain of the men’s swim team, an orientation group leader, a Second Year Experience ambassador and a volunteer for the Oakland University Center for Autism Outreach Services (OUCARES).

Last spring, Helander received OU’s Human Relations Award, given to a graduating senior who makes an outstanding social impact on campus. Upon receiving his bachelor’s degree in integrative studies with a concentration in entrepreneurship, he was inspired to create a $1,000 annual scholarship that will support OU undergraduate students.

“I’ve had an amazing time at OU, and I have been afforded many different opportunities,” he says. “So I wanted to start giving back to the University, and I thought the best way to do so was through a scholarship for undergrads.”

Known as the Helander Social Impact Award, the scholarship is open to undergraduate students with at least 28 credits and a cumulative GPA of 3.5. The application includes a 500-word essay asking applicants about their career plans and aspirations to make a positive impact on others.

Now pursuing his master’s in business administration with a concentration in finance, Helander is a financial manager for a Detroit-based coffee company. He also works as a graduate assistant in the Office of Alumni Engagement, competes in Master’s Swimming and volunteers at events such as OU’s Make a Difference Day.

“I believe everyone has something to give, whether it be time, talent or treasure,” Helander says. “Find something that you were involved with in school or something that you are passionate about and start to give back no matter what level you are at.”

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