The Heart of a Lion Continues to Roar

Student Raises Money to Establish an Endowed Scholarship for Christopher Mejia

Chris_MejiaA student from the Leon Hess Business School is currently raising money for an endowed scholarship honoring Christopher A. Mejia, a fellow business student and fraternity brother who passed away in 2013.

Jason Horowitz, a business major with an IT minor, came up with the idea for Mejia’s scholarship. “I met Chris my freshman year,” he said. “Instantly we formed a very special bond that I am very [lucky] to have made. Chris has such a positive influence on me. Initially, Chris was my big in Sigma Pi. However, our bond was greater than that …”

“The Christopher A. Mejia Scholarship at the Monmouth University School of Business in West Long Branch, NJ” will be awarded each year to “a worthy student who has the special attributes Chris possessed,” according to the scholarship’s webpage.

The webpage is called “Christopher A. Mejia Scholarship.” There, people are able to donate money and learn about Mejia. Horowitz updates the page when new information arrises regarding the scholarship or other methods to raise money.

Horowitz further explained that the recipient would have to be a part of the Business School and possibly have financial needs. “… Chris was the first in his family to attend and graduate college. He was raised by a single mom and worked to support himself and help his family … He helped others help themselves,” he said.

Lucille Flynn, the Associate Vice President of External Affairs, explained that there are two types of scholarships at the University. One is a sponsored scholarship and the other is an endowed scholarship. Flynn said that the biggest difference between the two is that an endowed scholarship is offered forever, while a sponsored scholarship’s lifespan depends on the donor.

There are two types of endowed scholarships. A distinguished endowed scholarship requires $50,000 and an endowed scholarship requires $25,000. Horowitz is currently $10,282 away from the $25,000 goal, according to the Christopher A. Mejia Scholarship webpage account on March 4.

John Buzza, a specialist professor in the Business School, had Mejia as a student in his entrepreneurship course last year. He explained that his entrepreneurship class this semester is coming out with a book that is about “what makes New Jersey special as far as food.” He said, “… My entrepreneurship class this semester is going to donate enough money through our profits [from the book] … to make the scholarship whole … There’s no question about it.”

“I’d like to think that Chris and I had a special relationship,” Buzza said. Buzza and Mejia worked very closely during Buzza’s class through a project involving Mejia’s formula for a healthy energy drink. “… we were like friends. It wasn’t the teacher, student relationship, we were like friends,” said Buzza.

Horowitz has up to five years to raise the $25,000, according to the University’s website. Once the money is raised, the scholarship can then be awarded to candidates. Flynn said that there are no other requirements for an endowed scholarship, just specific criteria created by the donor.

The amount awarded to the student depends on several things, explained Flynn. She said that the University awards between four and five percent through endowed scholarships, but this is not according to any rule, it all depends on the market and the University.

Flynn thinks the webpage is a wonderful thing but she does not think that it is the best way to raise money. “The problem with when you raise it through there, those people don’t get a tax deduction,” she said. ” … People [give] donations for many reasons, my thing is if you can at least get a tax deduction then they’re helping someone and then they’re also able to write off their gift. When you give through [those] sites, they take a fee and plus they don’t get a tax deduction.”

Flynn believes that the best way for people to make a donation is through the University’s website or sending a check. She explains that, this way, people receive a full tax credit, allowing the University to file their information on what their donation is for, and the University will alert them if anything is going on for that specific cause.

Cameron Nichols, an alumnus, was also Mejia’s little in Sigma Pi and Mejia’s roommate. “This scholarship will not only benefit a student who has shown academic excellence, but will keep Chris’ memory and legacy alive in each and everyone’s hearts,” Nichols said. “Chris was a hard worker and whatever he put his mind to, he did not stop until he reached success. He is the perfect role model and example of how each and every student should approach their school work, their career and most importantly their lives.”

Along with the endowed scholarship, Horowitz is also holding a walk called the Heart of a Lion Walk. It will be held on Sunday, April 13 at 9:30 am and will take place around the Kessler Stadium track.

“In one’s lifetime, we are lucky if we meet someone who is head and shoulders above the rest,” said Horowitz. “Someone who inspires us to be the best we can be. Chris was that person. This scholarship is a great way to honor Chris’ legacy. Once it is endowed it will honor Chris … perpetually. This will be the first of many memorials and dedications to my big brother.”

PHOTO TAKEN from Jason Horowit’s Facebook page