The UNLV Faculty-Staff Holiday Card campaign has been a campus tradition for more than 50 years. Like everything else, this year it's going to be different.
Yes, the scholarship it supports is still helping some of our most deserving students stay on track to earn their degrees. Case in point are recipients Krystal Eruchalu and Alexia Petriuc.
Petriuc, a criminal justice major with her sights set on becoming a district attorney, is an essential worker in a grocery store. “It is very stressful,” she said of her job. “This scholarship will help me substantially. I just want to say that I am incredibly grateful for the scholarship, and also grateful for work that the faculty and staff do.”
Eruchalu is studying nuclear medicine and radiology and hopes to work as an ultrasound technologist when she graduates. The Faculty-Staff Holiday Card Scholarship helps meet her financial aid needs, and, she said, means even more because it’s from UNLV employees.
“What a wonderful thing for the staff to do,” she said of the donors. “Tell them thank you. It makes a big difference – especially in a year like this.”
Even as the COVID-19 virus has caused countless new challenges to students and the entire campus community, the tradition continues. But this year, as an adaptation to operating remotely, the Faculty-Staff Holiday Card campaign that funds the scholarship will be digital.
The card and scholarship have a long history. In 1967, a holiday card project was launched by members of UNLV's original Faculty Club, lead by former foreign language professor Don Schmiedel and his wife, Grace. Instead of sending many cards to one another, the Faculty Club printed one card recognizing all contributors and distributed it campuswide.
"It began to keep faculty from feeling obligated to send cards to one another because we were all just starting off and we didn't have a lot of money," said Schmiedel, who retired from UNLV in 1999. Grace Schmiedel passed away last year.
The club expanded its purpose to incorporate a charitable component, inviting faculty and staff to donate to a student scholarship. Today, the Faculty-Staff Holiday Card Scholarship Fund is an endowed fund that tops $155,000.
Notable local artists, staff, and students have had a hand in creating the card over the years. Their unique holiday-themed designs capture the spirit of the campus and the times.
This year, the 2020 holiday card will be designed digitally and sent via email. But it will still contain the same heartfelt message. After a challenging year for all, it seems like a particularly welcome sentiment this season: Happy holidays, and best wishes for a peaceful and healthy new year.