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Kelli Chavez has wanted to attend Valparaiso University since eighth grade when her middle school class from nearby Merrillville, Ind., visited the campus. When she applied, Kelli also got asked to join Christ College, The Honors College. She knew that CC would help her prepare for Law School and her future within Criminology. After her overnight stays, Kelli was sure that Valparaiso University was the best school for her.

However, with tuition costs, Kelli’s dream school seemed out of reach until she received her financial aid award letter.

“The Board of Directors Scholarship was the deciding factor to come to Valpo,” Kelli said. “I cried when I got my scholarship letter because I was so thankful for being given this opportunity. I would really like to thank the people who made it possible. Now I am given the chance to succeed at the school of my dreams.”

Since beginning at Valpo, Kelli has had numerous defining moments that have solidified her place on campus. The first was spring break her freshman year when she traveled to New Orleans with Core and SALT. The experience opened her eyes to the caring nature of the Valpo community. Another moment was after turning in her first large research paper for Christ College. The sense of accomplishment enabled Kelli, allowing her to feel as if she could do anything.

“Valpo really wants its students to become quality critical thinkers and I think that’s the biggest draw to the University,” said Kelli, whose dedication to academics has been cultivated through the institution. Chavez not only continues to exceed in academics, but also is involved around campus in extracurricular activities, and Valpo encourages her to do so. Through her activities, Kelli has met friends, professors, mentors, and people from all over the country and the world.

“Having a Valpo family will be what I remember most about my Valpo experience,” Kelli said.

The relationships made at this institution have given Kelli a worldview and experience unlike any other. Kelli is blogging for the University to share her unique experience. Check out her blog at blogs.valpo.edu/valpoexperience/author/kellichavez and follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/KelliAtValpo.

Without the generosity of Valpo donors, experiences such as Kelli’s would not be possible. So this season, please consider a gift to the ValpoFund. In return, every individual who shares a gift of $50 or more will receive a full-color, 13-month calendar. The calendar features photos from around campus as well as quotes from students just like Kelli — as well as alumni, faculty, and staff — about the impact of the Valpo Fund and a Valpo education.